Sunday, February 24, 2013

President's Day Writing

       In honor of President's Day, we have been learning about our country, it's symbols, and a few of the presidents. I love the pretty flags they made for the hall bulletin board!
     It's also the time of year that things are starting to come together for the children -- they can read books, spell words, and actually write sentences that you can read!  Woo-hoo!!  I have started assigning a writing activity for homework every week, and I have been so pleased with some of their work.  I taught them about "5 star writing" -- \
  • Starts with a capital
  •  spaces between words
  • ends with punctuation
  • makes sense
  • neat
They can get a 6th star for a good picture.
Here are a few samples from this month -- remember, they are only 5 years old!

   These are from a homework assignment -- I wish I had enough assistants to guide each child with their writing at school, but the parents are doing a great job with them at home.

Here's one from our bird study week.

And here are a few that were written in the classroom independently.
I love how she sounded out "our" as "ewur"

               "He read books to make him smart" -- just the message I hoped would get across!
      I am always amazed when we get to this part of the year -- they really have learned, even with all the difficulties of large class size, discipline issues, interruptions, wet pants, broken arm, tears and everything else -- THEY ARE LEARNING!!  THIS IS WHY I LOVE MY JOB!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited -- Launching

  For some unknown reason, my dear friend and co-worker, Allison Franzen, wanted me to help her with a Daily 5 presentation for other teachers in the county.  We have worked together on this a couple times before, because we both love the Daily 5, but it makes me a little nervous to think about teaching other teachers.  I am no expert, but it has changed the way I am able to teach, so good news should always be shared, I think.  And this literacy/classroom management system makes such an  amazing difference -- so I thought it might be helpful to add a little "how-to-launch" to my blog, even though others have covered the topic very well. Daily 5 is just a way of structuring the reading block so that every child is engaged in independent and meaningful literacy activities.
  In my kindergarten, I start the first day of school by establishing my "Gathering place" -- which is the carpet in front of my whiteboard. 
I will already have book baskets prepared, loaded with an ABC book, a color book, Ranger Rick magazine, a number book, an ABC Letterland Chart, and a familiar storybook.

I have chimes that hang from my ceiling, and I teach them to stop whatever they are doing when they hear the chimes. Since the first part of Daily 5 is always "Read to Self" I teach them the 3 ways to read a book: 
  I demonstrate that with a  great book, like "No, David."
I create the sense of urgency by telling them how wonderful it will be to read your own books about things that interest you.
  Now we make the first Anchor Chart or "I Chart"  -- they will brainstorm ideas about behavior, and I will write it down on a chart.

  The next important step is modeling the behaviors we have listed.  I will also choose a child to demonstrate the undesirable behaviors. When I am pretty sure they understand the procedures, I will place the students around the room, give them a basket of books, and let them practice.

 At the first sign of undesirable behavior, I ring the chimes and bring them all back to the carpet to check in and talk about how they did.  This may only be about 2 minutes-- or even less -- but that's the way we start to build stamina.  I will chart it on a graph and eventually they will be able to read for about 20 minutes -- independently -- and it is amazing!
  After they build some stamilna -- maybe 8-10 minutes, I will start adding the other parts of Daily 5.

                                                                     Word Work

                                                                 Read to Someone

                      And I teach them how to talk to each other about the books they are reading.

                                                                  Work on Writing
and Listen to Reading -- sorry, no picture for now.

Daily 5 gives me more time to work with individuals and small groups while the rest of the class is engaged in meaningful literacy learning experiences. You don't have to worry about setting up "centers" or busywork, and everything can be adjusted to fit the way you like to teach.  I would never have believed that 5 year old children could stay in one spot and work independently for 20 minutes -- it is incredible but wonderful when it is working!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meeting Heidi!

Not only did I get a day off school today, but I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only creator of HeidiSongs, Heidi Butkus!

My school made it possible for two of the kindergarten teachers to go to the North Carolina Conference on State Standards in Greensboro.  And I was very excited, since Heidi Butkus was going to be one of the presenters.  I have been reading everything she has written , both on her website and in her blogs, for several years.  She has written a ton of songs that teach sight words, and my kids love to sing them -- so have learned to read and spell a lot of tricky words. 

As she said today, children need to hear, see, say, and do in order to retain information. Her songs have certainly made a difference for us with tricky words like "what" and "the" -- and she is lots more fun than flash cards! 
She reminded me today of lots of games and activities that I have used in previous years -- but with  the slightly overwhelming number of children in my class this year, I forgot about all these great ideas.  How could I have forgotten the "Quiet Game?"  If she can teach a class of 28 AND publish books and songs AND travel all over the US sharing her ideas, I can surely manage my large class.  Thank you, Heidi, for giving me a much needed boost -- and the reminder of ways to increase learning for even my struggling kids. You are amazing!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Love Notes Link Up

                                                         Amy at "Literacy and Laughter"
                                                                   is having a linky!


Name: Ann

Grade you Teach: Kindergarten 

State: North Carolina

Birthday: February 29 -- no birthday this year

Favorite Colors: Red and blue

Lucky Number: 13 -- met my husband on Friday the 13th

Favorite Subject to Teach: Literacy!!

Go to Snack: Trying to make it bananas or apples -- but Lindt Truffles call...

  Last Movie You Watched: March of the Penguins
  Music You are Loving Right Now: "10,000 Reasons" and "The Song Has Ended"

Always shopping at: Wal-mart and Dollar Tree and ..."Teachers Pay Teachers"
  Word of the day: Snow?

“Love Links”
share links to…
                             a blog you are loving right now: 
 Going to see her at a conference in NC in a couple weeks -- so excited!!

More things I love...
What do I love doing in my free time?
Sing with my Carolina Style Chorus barbershop buddies,
Go to church,
And read other teacher blogs -- there is no other free time!

Favorite vacation spot?
Bar Harbor, Maine and Charleston, South Carolina are the places we have loved in the past few years.  We also had a great time in Pennsylvania Amish country a few years ago, and San Antonio was fun, too. When we lived in Germany, our favorite places were Holland and Switzerland.

Beautiful Maine

And the loves of my life --
                           My son-in-law and my 3 children give me so much joy --
and the best show-and-tell ever --- my husband of 38 years, Sam --
He's retired now, after serving 25 years as  helicopter pilot in the Army.  We met on a mission trip right before he went to Viet Nam.  He always comes to school on Veteran's Day.
Here's a Animoto video I made for our anniversary
Happy Anniversary 

I also love teaching kindergarten -- here is the door to the magical place where my babies learn to read and write and turn into first graders...