Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Daily 5

   I've been using "The Daily 5" techniques for several years -- I don't know how I ever managed a classroom full of kindergarten kids without knowing all the tricks in this book.
1. Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks.  

Our gathering place is on a wonderful rug that I got from Donor's Choose.  It is divided into 20 squares and was great for my class of 17 this year. Looks like we will have more than that this year, so not sure how that will work. Only problem was one kid who cried if he didn't get to sit on the blue square -- but since there were 5 blues, I could usually get someone to trade.

2. Developing the concept of "good fit" books.
 I've used the shoe example from the book for several years, explaining the importance of choosing books that fit you.  The kids think it is hilarious when I try to put on a child's shoe or one of my husband's boots.  I also have a high heel shoe to use when I talk about finding a book that interests you. I ask one of the boys, "Would you be interested in wearing this shoe?" After the groans and laughter die down, I explain about choosing a book that interests you. This year I plan to add the Goldilocks story about Good Fit books, too.

3. Create anchor charts with students.
Just like we talk together to establish the rules of the classroom, we also talk together to create an anchor chart.  After the procedures are written down -- start right away, read the whole time, etc.--
 I usually make a poster with photographs of the children demonstrating the correct way to work on building stamina -- and ignoring me as I walk around taking pictures.  Sometimes I get a picture to demonstrate the WRONG way -- like one  I caught sleeping!

I have several versions of the stamina chart and we like to chart the time that everyone is following all the procedures. And sometimes we only make it for 2 minutes at first, but gradually the time increases and before long these little 5 year olds are "reading" for 20 minutes!! Amazing!!  
I have about 6 big laundry baskets that I scatter around the room for readers to sit in,  It helps them choose a good place to read -- especially the ones who have a hard time with the "Stay in one Spot" rule.

 What will you use for book boxes?

I got these plastic totes from Dollar Tree and have used them for three years -- haven't had to replace a single one.  They hold lots and don't tip easily -- I just put a new name sticker on every year.

What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?

Probably won't fill the boxes until I've had a day or 2 to get to know the children.  Their first basket will have an ABC book, a number book, a "Ranger Rick" magazine, a familiar fairy tale or Disney book (for retelling) and a folder with page protectors containing the Letterland ABC chart, a short list of sight words, and a page with pictures and names of all their classmates.  I don't actually talk about Good Fit books until they are ready to choose their own books.

5. Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?)

I have wind chimes hanging from the ceiling -- the sound of the chimes means put your basket away and come to the carpet. But sometimes I'll say, "Leave your basket where it is and come to the carpet so we can talk about how you are doing, then we will try again."  I also like the Whole Brain "CLASS?"  "Yes!" because I don't have to get up and walk to the chimes -- it's a great way to get their attention. They know they are all supposed to answer and look at the teacher.
 I have a pocket chart with names/pictures of all the children and cards with the 5 choices plus "Work with Teacher." They can see at a glance what their schedule is for the morning.  I try to let them have choices later in the year, but honestly, I usually choose for them most of the time.  And sometimes I just say "Stop and switch" and they go directly to the next activity without a check in after they have been in school for a while.

6. Using the correct model/incorrect model approach for demonstrating appropriate behaviors. 

MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!! We practice following the  procedures a LOT during the first month or so. I always give the wiggly ones a chance to demonstrate the correct way to get the basket, find a good place, start right away -- so we all know they can really do it.  Sometimes I have to demonstrate the incorrect way to do it because they have trouble doing the wrong thing at first. As I am doing it all wrong, they are shouting, "No, NO!"

I am so thankful that I found the Daily 5 book -- and love all the teacher/bloggers who share!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Best Teechr Ever

     Well, school's out and although I am thankful for my days off -- 53 days, to be exact -- I hated to say goodbye to this sweet class. One of my favorite things to do is read journals. In the last month or two of school when they are really learning how to write,  you never know what you will get.  I love how this one sounded out the word "elementary" -- l-u-min-tre. And I am proud to be "the best teechr ever." But when I get one whose favorite thing  is NOT recess, but reading -- "because I am good at it"-- well, that just makes me do the dance of joy!!  That's my goal -- to see a whole class of boys and girls who love reading because they are good at it!.
     I brought my Kindle to school -- I found some free downloads of early reader books about ocean animals and let this little boy try it out.  From that day on, he asked every day to read more stories. And when we wrote about "The Best Thing About Kindergarten"  -- he said, "The best thing about kindergarten is the Kindle."  When we had a rainy day with recess in the classroom, he and 2 other boys spent nearly the whole playtime gathered around the Kindle, reading about jellyfish and sharks.
What a wonderful tool to get kids reading!  I wish I had a whole stack of them!
     It is an amazing and wonderful thing to be able to teach children to read and write.  They come to me like a blank slate -- and I cram as much learning into their little minds as I can from August to May -- and VOILA! This magic happens and a whole new world is open to them. Teaching kindergarten is the BEST JOB EVER!  (I will read this again when I get another roomful of blank slates in August and try to remember the June feeling as I am pulling my hair out during the first month of school!)