Needless to say, my students have grown so much since the last time I updated my blog. Here are the items we have learned in the areas of reading, writing, and math:
My students have learned 4 of the 5 Readers' Workshop components: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, and Listen to Reading. I will teach them Read to Someone next week. Word Work was an easy element to learn since it consists of working on the i-Pad. Students log in to a phonics-based program called I-Read, which is created by Scholastic. Every day, students get to visit Beastie Hall and learn various letters, words, and phonics skills from their Beastie Hall teachers. The skills they are working on are directly at their level, so each student is working on different lessons. My students have really enjoyed this program. There will be information coming home at conferences so your child can do this at home.
In addition to Word Work, my students have learned how to do Listen to Reading. This component involves, very simply, listening to reading. My students have the opportunity to listen to books on CD during this time. The purpose of Listen to Reading is to help foster fluency. The more students listen to fluent reading, the easier it will be for students to mimic that fluent reading on their own.
We have also begun Guided Reading groups this week! I wanted to begin meeting with groups much earlier in the year, but due to a lot of testing, that wasn't feasible until now. It really has been unbelievable that I have already met with all of my groups two to three times this week. At a conference this summer, I was surprised to hear that a lot of kindergarten teachers don't begin meeting with reading groups until January! I feel that the sooner I can get to groups, the better, simply because I believe this is where the most learning takes place.
Students get the most out of small group work because the lessons are designed with each group's needs in mind. I focus on a different goal with each group. Some of the goals include: 'getting your mouth ready to say the first sound' and 'finding the first part and looking through the whole word.' Each group also focuses on these three questions when they attempt to read a word they don't know: 'Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?' Ultimately, as teachers, we want students to always think back to what makes sense in the story because comprehension is the purpose for reading. Every lesson ends with a conversation centered around comprehension.
As students receive new books in Guided Reading, they will have the opportunity to bring these books home for additional practice. These books have come home in a Dr. Seuss book bag that you should have seen at least once this week. Simply have your child read these books to you once or twice, sign the book log, and return the bag to school. My rule is that a new book cannot come home until the previous book is returned. Return the bags within one to two days of receiving it. Once a reading log is complete, students will get to pick a prize out of the prize box. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the book bags. Here are some pictures and a video of Readers' Workshop with those 4 components of Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, and Listen to Reading. In the second video, you can see me working with a small group in the background at my Guided Reading table.
Students have continued to work on writing stories from their heart...stories that have happened to them. They just learned that this type of writing is called Personal Narratives. Next week, we will read lots of examples of Personal Narratives and begin to learn the different features that all Personal Narratives have. They will then incorporate those same features into their own writing.
We have learned more about stretching words out and using tools such as letter charts, spacemen (which look like astronauts, but they help them leave spaces between their words), and word walls (a wall that collects words we know how to read and write). They have also learned that a story needs a beginning, middle, and end and that we can add lots of details in pictures and words to help the reader picture everything that happened. Here are some pictures of some writing and of the writing tools we are using. Look at all of the sounds my students are getting down! It's amazing! And, yes, one of my students wrote about how I caught a toad! Notice the speech bubble that says, "Aaaa." Priceless!
In math, we have continued to work on fluency with numbers 1-10. We have also worked on beginning addition and subtraction skills. We have specifically worked on adding one more. By working on our counting collections, students have grown in their understanding of counting in efficient ways. Students have learned how to make groups of 10 by using ten-frames. They have also learned how to record their thinking so other people know how they counted. Some students have learned how to use a hundred's chart to help them write bigger numbers. My goal is to begin meeting with math groups by the end of October.
After testing, it is very clear this is a class who has a deep understanding of numbers. As a whole, my students' scores were pretty amazing. I am excited to challenge them this year! At the end of our Math By Myself time, one to two students are asked to share their counting strategy and how they recorded their thinking. Students can truly be the best teachers! Many of my students feel empowered to try counting in different and more efficient ways because one of their friends tried it. Here are a few pictures of some counting collections and math tools. I will have to add some more pictures next week, as I forgot to take pictures and videos on Friday. Next week, I will add a video of one of my students sharing. I have, however, included a video of Math By Myself time. I tried to zoom in on a few of my students as they recorded their thinking.