Friday, April 29, 2016

Readers share new information from their nonfiction reading

In Reading Workshop we are reading to learn new information.  Readers often read new information and talk to people in their lives about exciting new things they learn from their reading.  The students LOVE tagging pages where they learn new information and look forward to sharing the information with their reading partner.  Each day as a class, we read a book for information and practice our comprehension skills by talking about facts we learn and sharing questions we have about the topic.   We are using our read aloud fiction book to make connections to character feelings or problems in the book.  Readers use different strategies when reading different types of books to strengthen their comprehension and build their book conversation skills with others. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Reading Buddy Relationships Continue to Grow

As the year progresses, our relationships with our 5th grade reading buddies do too.  Students from both rooms love to share their books, their predictions and connections to what they read.  We are building a community of readers by providing the students with opportunities to talk about what they read.  What did they like, not like, what do they recommend and why.  Our class has been introduced to many new types of books through this relationship: biographies, comics, history, autobiographies, and many others.  We love having these 5th graders as buddies to share in the learning experience at Westwoods.  

Earth Day

On Earth Day, the students read about ways to help our planet in Library.  We brainstormed little changes we can make that have a huge impact on this word.  We made coffee filter Earths to hang on our pledges to help our planet in the hallway.  Here were a few of their ideas:

  • turn off the water when brushing your teeth
  • don't bathe every day (this was the favorite)
  • recycle
  • buy recycled items
  • use both sides of a paper
  • plant trees
  • take only what you will eat
  • turn off the lights as you leave the room
  • use a refillable water bottle
  • pick up trash
  • leave nature as it was when you arrived
  • love worms, put them in the soil and don't step on them
  • compost

My 5 Senses Review

This week we reviewed our learning of the 5 Senses.  Students participated in each of the experiments an additional time (except the taste test).  The level of conversation during this review was amazing.  Students were talking about the molecules that go up their nose when they smell and attach to the smell receptors to signal to the brain what the scent is.  WOW, is all I can say.  They take about the vibrations in the ear and the tiny bones behind the ear drum that vibrate when you hear sounds.  Students talked about seeing items, noticing details, how things appear in light vs dark, how your pupils change as the light in the room change.  They explored a variety of materials, made connections to where in their house/life they have seen those materials and felt those materials.  They LOVED this review and it got their brains ready to write an All About the 5 Senses book for Writing Workshop.  

Making Connections in Phonics

Readers make connections to everything they read.  This task many of us do almost mindlessly helps us create a filing system about topics and builds our comprehension.   This week in Phonics Mrs. Bank shared her connections with the class.  Our phonics reader had a story called "The Van," where Sam and his mom and his friend were in the van and it broke down.  They had to call a fix-it-man.  Mrs. Bank just had a similar experience last weekend when she was on a road trip with her family.  The students love to hear thaws that adults connect to what they read.  You can model this for your child anytime you read fiction or non-fiction.  Verbalize that thinking you are doing and start a conversation with your child, you will be amazed at their thoughtful questions to your connections.  Making connections is a fun way to build comprehension in reading, share the task and get to know your chid as a thinker too!

2nd Step

Kindergarten is not only a big year for academic growth in children but a huge leap in social emotional development too.  Students come in with a variety of social experiences and are quickly immersed in a world of structure, procedures, fun, academics and negotiation.  Our class uses a curriculum called 2nd Step.  This program systematically helps students build social skills starting at the foundation, making friends, understating accidents, to more complex skills like self regulation, negotiating in play and many others.   Mr. Meyers joins our classroom almost every Wednesday as a celebrity teacher to support our class in this curriculum.  Ask your child about Impulsive Puppy and Be Calm Bunny.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bullying meetings

All month we have focused our read alouds around the theme of friendship.  We thought about the author's purpose or the lesson in the books and brainstormed what we can do with our friends to reinforce these friendship skills.  Our class is working everyday to be the best human we can be.  We have talked daily about how there will always be learning opportunities and mistakes for everyone but it is how we learn from those things that makes us better humans.  

We did an activity where we passed a heart around and shared something either we did or something we have seen that was a bulling behavior.  As we shared ideas, we folded the heart, by the time we made it through all 19 of us the heart was extremely wrinkled.  We tried to flatten it out and make it smooth but we couldn't.  We talked about how those wrinkles that the bullying behaviors leave on the heart never go away.  

Today a few staff members role played a scenario where they bullied me.  Mrs. Johnson yelled at me, told me I was not her friend, told me what to do, and said other hurtful comments.  Mrs. Bank and Ms. Wiley were by standards that did nothing. The students stopped their math practice and watched with eyes wide open.  Our conversation after this scenario was amazing.  Students talked about how their stomach felt when I was being yelled at, the tone of Mrs. Johnson's voice made them scared, the tears on Mrs. Walter's face made them sad.  Mrs. Bank talked about how she wanted to stand up but didn't know how, the class generated ideas to help her if she is ever in that position again.  Ms. Wiley told the class she didn't know what to do because she has never seen someone treat another human in such a manner.  The class suggested to her that she could get help from another adult. The power of this conversation was breath taking.  The students reflected on how they felt as by-standards, how they felt as my friends and how they felt thinking people actually treat others that way.  Mrs. Johnson did return to the classroom to let the class know that we (the teachers) planned this and it was all planned to help them see how hurtful many of the behaviors that are being reported at recess can be.  

Major take aways we are hoping for:

  • be a good human and what that looks like
  • stand up
  • get help
  • your words matter
  • your tone tells your audience it's own story
  • everyone has hiccups and how you learn from them is what matters
  • you are in charge of you

We are focusing on  being a good human and living by the golden rule:


Building number sense

Every day the students engage in activities that help them build number sense.  These activities are targeted to support each student where they are at in their learning and provide them with opportunities that are fun and engaging while reinforcing the skill necessary to help them further develop their number sense.  

Our goal as mathematicians in kindergarten is to think about what we already know when we are faced with something we don't know yet.  

Some activities we are working on in the classroom are:  flip and fill a 10s frame (practicing combinations of 10), tens go fish (practicing combinations of 10), double compare (adding two numbers by putting the larger number in our head and counting on), dice in dice addition (adding two numbers by putting the larger number in our head and counting on), counters in a cup (composing and decomposing numbers), how many are hiding (composing and decomposing numbers), roll it, build it (base 10 representation), place value partners (base 10 representation, composing and decomposing numbers).  

Your child may have not played all of these games yet but as they progress in developing their number sense, they will have the opportunities to learn all of the games.  

Here is a list of great iPad apps that we use to reinforce these skills (some are free and some are not):

Hungry Fish
Monkey Math School Sunshine
Math Bingo (bundle pack has adding, subtraction, base 10 
10 Frame Fill
Sushi Monster
Bellamon Counting Caterpillar (bundle pack has a great phonics app too)
Line em Up.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Stealing Reading Minutes

On mornings when the weather does not cooperate, many of the students in our classroom can be found stealing reading minutes with their book bags in the hall.  There is not a prouder sight for a teacher.  We LOVE reading! 

Mystery Reader #15

Mr. Shedlock was Mystery Reader #15.  He read two of his favorites Where the Wild Things Are and Love From Uncle Clyde.  The students loved hearing the stories and having Mr. Shedlock share his favorites with the class.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Exploring the sense of taste

We explored the sense of taste by looking at our tongues with mirrors and seeing what we notice.  We tried a variety of foods as well.  The students sampled sweet, sour, salty and bitter.  100% pure chocolate was a shock to everyone!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mystery Reader #14

Mystery Reader #14 was Mrs. Brostrom.  She loved being back in the teaching stool with a group of students gathered around her enjoying a story.  Mrs. Brostrom spends her days teaching teachers, so this was a special treat.  She share a fabulous book called A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Research All About Books

Students explored "All About books" to learn more about the type of writing we are moving into this week.  They looked through books and found features that we do not see in typical story books.  Students shared their finding with the class and you could feel the excitement in the air for this new writing opportunity.  

What did students notice?

  • labels
  • zoom in pictures
  • titles on pages
  • captions
  • arrows to show how something works
  • writing in lots of places on the pages (top, bottom, middle and not always the same page to page)
  • diagrams
  • table of contents

Stay tuned to see how these writers teach us the amazing things they know all about using some of these same features.