Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A rewarding day -- mostly...

 I've been trying to get my kinders to write sentences for a while -- most can manage one or two -- rarely more.  But I was happy today to finally see them get excited about writing. I've been teaching them about labeling their pictures for a couple weeks -- and after the brief snowfall yesterday, I pulled out a snowman picture I'd been saving for this very occasion.  We carefully labeled it -- scarf, carrot nose, hat, eyes, etc.  Today I asked them to use the labels to write "How to Build a Snowman." And wow!  They really got into it!  When the first child asked for a second sheet of paper, it really inspired the rest of the class.  Soon I was giving a second, third, and even a couple asked for a fourth page!! Now, I know they write BIG letters -- but it almost became this wonderful competition to see who could write the longest story.  And considering that most couldn't even write their name just 100 days ago, this is pretty incredible. The stories weren't great -- "First poot on the eyes, thin poot on the carrot nose.  It is orange," But I was almost doing the dance of joy as I was stapling 4 pages together.  I love these "breakthrough" days when they start to "get it".  Even the struggling little one tried really hard -- even though he just wrote a string of letters, he filled the page, and that is progress.
    On the downside, one kid used the scissors today to cut a big hole in his shirt.  Guess I still have work to do...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

100 Days + RTI

 This was the 100th day of school -- the day was full of fun activities like making 100 bead necklaces, 100th day hats, 100th day glasses, 100 link paper chains, and writing numbers to 100 and "When I have $100, I will....  In the midst of all the craziness, my principal came in to do my observation.  I was just starting to read one of my favorites, "The Wolf's Chicken Stew," and the kids were already pretty excited by the whole celebration, so their enthusiasm for the story was even higher than usual. I always ask lots of questions when I read, trying to elicit some of the higher order thinking skills -- but never knowing what kind of answers I will get.  This was a very good day, though -- they were really on the ball.  I asked "What happened at the beginning of the story?"  One little boy said "The wolf went fishing." Now, there was nothing in the story about fishing, so I was a little doubtful about that answer, but then I noticed that there were fish bones on the wolf's dinner table in the first illustration. So I said,"How did you know he went fishing?"  And another boy said, "I could infer from the picture." GREAT ANSWER!  Then I asked if they could make a connection to another book, and hands went up everywhere. Lots of good answers, but the best was "Little Red Riding Hood because both the wolves were trying to trick someone."  I keep a bucket of little plastic soldiers, firemen and policemen from the Dollar Tree on my desk to give to kids who use the "make a connection" strategy, because soldiers, firemen, and policemen use strategies in their jobs. They really rack their little brains to think up connections to books we have already read, and I am often amazed at their ideas. Anyway, my principal was impressed by the responses, and so was I -- sharing a good story is my favorite part of the day, especially when the kids get so excited about books and reading.
The other good part of the day? I got to leave at noon to go to a great workshop and leave all the craziness of the rest of the day to the capable hands of my assistant, my student teacher, and a great sub.  The workshop was excellent -- I finally understand RTI a lot better, and I am eager to get back tomorrow to start applying what I learned.  I LOVE MY JOB!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why a blog?

I originally wrote this a couple years ago, but my sweet blogger niece, Kellie Lewis, reminded me about why we write blogs, so I decided to run it by again.  Probably nobody read it the first time, anyway!       
 This weekend I was a part of the "virtual kindergarten expo" -- four of my favorite teaching bloggers gave wonderful presentations that I could watch while I relaxed in front of my computer -- and unlike some of the school workshops I have attended lately, these were chock full of ideas that I could use this week. I took notes as fast as I could, then realized that I could pause it while I walked to the kitchen for  a snack -- and even watch the whole thing again and again -- even at 2:00 a.m. in my pajamas when I couldn't sleep.
     One of my favorite speakers, Crystal, at Kreative in Kinder, talked  about Writers Workshop -- and I have already used one of her ideas in my classroom this week. We made a poster titled, "Why Do Writer's Write?" and the kids told me the reasons -- to learn, to tell the news, to make people laugh, because you LOVE writing, etc. Then in the faculty meeting today, our principal asked, "Who has a blog?" and she asked me to send the link to my blog to the rest of the faculty. So, in case anyone is actually reading this, here are the reasons I write a blog:
1. to learn
2. to tell the news
3. to make people laugh (or at least smile)
4. because I love to write
     There are other reasons, but I realized that the kids were right -- all those reasons fit me.  I started writing mainly because I wanted to be a part of the amazing and rapidly growing community of "teaching bloggers."  I have learned so much from these talented teachers who share so many wonderful and creative ideas.  My blog is mainly for my own enjoyment, but I LOVE it when I find that someone is actually reading it and leaving a comment. And although I only have a few people who "follow" my blog, I am THRILLED with each new follower, especially since I have no "freebies" to offer.  If you want to read some really great blogs, check out the ones I follow -- these teachers are constantly offering new ideas and lessons  -- many for sale on "Teachers pay Teachers" but also lots given away for free. I appreciate the opportunity to share their ideas with my students.  And I love it when they say "Look at this cool thing I found at the Dollar Tree -- this is what I'm doing with it." I rush right down to Dollar Tree and buy whatever cool thing they discovered, just like other bloggers all over the country!  I love this kind of collaboration!
       When my kinders did something amazing, I used to go down the hall and try to find someone to appreciate the picture or story my little one produced.  Now I just take a picture and put it on my blog. And guess what? I have now had over 50,000 hits on my blog!