Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventures in Kindergarten Interactive Notebooks

So, I made the decision this year to attempt interactive notebooks. For some reason I decided to try them with my kindergarten intervention groups. My thinking was it would be a great way to organize all of our phonemic awareness and phonics activities. What I had forgotten was my kindergarteners come in with no idea how to cut or glue.  After our first activity, decorating the covers, I quickly realized I was going to have to rethink how I was going to handle this project.
The kids were so excited; however, the cutting and glueing took our entire group time (20 minutes). If you have brilliant ideas for solving this issue feel free to post them in the comments.  Our first phonemic awareness activity was matching first sounds. I decided to bring the notebooks home and do all the prep work for the kids. This is how I decided to handle the first few activities. We had a great time matching sounds and they really enjoy their notebooks. In fact after every activity they ask if they can take them home.
As we have gotten further into the school year, they are almost able to hold their scissors and cut close to the line. And they get mad at me when I do the cutting so I have begun to let them cut their own pieces.  This little girl is being very careful.
I feel like they are learning a lot and they are proud of their work, When we have a few extra minutes they go back through and practice the skills they have learned. I am creating the notebook as I go and will sell it only after it has been thoroughly tested and adjusted to work well with kindergarteners.  I have learned some important lessons already.
  1. Think about the point of the lesson. The majority of time needs to be spent on the kids learning, not cutting (unless of course they are learning to cut)
  2. Remember when giving young kids this type of activity they need directions, examples and help (repeat this many times).
  3. The students should have time to go back and work on what is in their notebook. This allows them to continue to practice until they have it mastered.
  4. The kids notebooks do not look like mine and that's okay. They are proud of them anyway.
  5. Sometimes you need to step in and adjust how things are done.

Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Connecting Reading, Writing and Science

Well, it is officially spring in Colorado (even though it has been snowing all day) and that means it is time for my favorite unit of the year, Incredible Insects.  I love teaching about insects.  This is the unit that my students get the most excited about.  It gives me a chance to go back to teaching science, which is the one thing I miss most about be a regular classroom teacher.  The students get so engaged in this unit they don't want to leave the room.

We began the unit last week and have learned what an insect is and what it is not.  We watched fascinating videos about insects and have read several books.   Thanks to the Westminster Butterfly Pavilion  we have all kinds of cool objects to look at.  Here they are sorting insects and non-insects.

 They used what they learned in the books we have read to classify insects.  The post it notes are all the important ideas they are getting from their reading.

We ended this week with a fictional story about an insect, The Grouchy Ladybug.  This was a great opportunity to add some discussion of The Seven Habits into our unit.  The students discussed attitude and the need for the ladybug to choose her own weather rather than being grouchy.

Now that we have learned the basics about insects we will begin going more in depth.  Each student has selected an insect to study and will complete a webquest next week.  I can't wait to learn more about the Giant Weta from Julian!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Summary Writing

My second graders are working on learning how to write a summary.  Our first summary was of A Chair For My Mother by Vera B Williams.  The first step in our process was to read the book in sections and to write the main idea of each section on a sticky note.
After each student determined the main idea for each of the four sections of the book we worked together to determine how we could put our ideas together as a group.
Finally, each student used their own notes and wrote a summary paragraph.  They did a great job on their first summary paragraphs.  Samples will come soon.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Close Reading

Recently there has been a lot more focus put on close reading.  This is especially true in districts using the Common Core Standards.  Close reading can be an important tool when teaching comprehension.  When doing a close read students are taught to return to the text over and over again.  They learn to use evidence from the text to support answers.  This rereading allows students to focus on content and develop a deeper understanding.

Some things to consider when choosing a text for close reading are…
ü  Passages should be short- Remember your students are going to be reading this multiple times you do not want it to be too much.
ü  Passages need to have content worthy of close reading- Not all passages are created equal and not all passages require close reading.   Make sure there is enough in the passage to engage and challenge your students.
Teaching your students to “Read with a Pencil”

Reading with a pencil helps students to pay attention to the text and helps them to use evidence when answering questions.  When reading with a pencil students are more active.  This is not a skill that young students pick up on their own.  It has to be modeled.  Help your students learn to be reading detectives by guiding them through this process.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Discovering Mysteries

The second graders have moved on to the mystery genre.  They are really enjoying their detective books where they are recording the suspects and clues in The Case of the Missing Cookie.  Tomorrow we will be creating mystery cubes (pictures will be coming).  The mystery genre fits in so well with our current comprehension focus, questioning.  Nothing creates better questions than true curiosity.Mystery Genre Reading and Writing

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Focus on Comprehension

This week my second graders are working on building their comprehension skills by doing some close reading.  They are excited to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.  Today they got to be reading detectives and use evidence from their text to support their responses to questions about MLK.

Martin Luther King Jr Close Reading

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Office

I finally was able to make space in my very small home for a mini office.  Thank you to my husband for getting me a computer to help complete it.  Now, if I could only decide on a paint color.  I am thinking something bright to keep me motivated.  I am ready to begin my big project for this year.    I am going back through all of my work on my Masters to research reading interventions. Hopefully, I will have it complete by spring.