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 all 5 of the 5 Readers' Workshop components: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, Listen to Reading, and Read to Someone. 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. As the year goes on, there will be additional activities students will do in word work, but for now, I-Read it is!
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.
Read to Someone is the newest component we have added to our reading repertoire! This task involves students reading with a friend. They take turns reading books from their browsing boxes. One of my students was nervous because he said he didn't know how to read, but then I reminded students that they can read the pictures. Very shortly, students will begin to receive more and more books that are just right for them. These books will be given to them during Guided Reading (see below) so they can practice reading the words. Students will get to do this every Friday in place of Read to Self. As always, students LOVED reading with their partners!
Because students have grown in independence with the above tasks, we have been able to start Guided Reading groups! I only met with two of my five groups last week, but I plan to meet with each group by the end of this week! As of now, I'm only meeting with two groups a day, but by the end of the month, I would like to meet with three to four groups a day. I wanted to begin meeting with groups 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 been able to meet 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.
In my opinion, 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 will come home in a Dr. Seuss book bag that you should see in the next few weeks. 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. Please 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.
Every day, my students listen to a story read aloud, which is known as an Interactive Read-Aloud. Each read-aloud is centered around a goal to help students learn how to apply various reading skills. The Read-Aloud video below was shared with the staff at a staff meeting, and many friends were impressed with the connections my students were making to other books. Even though it's a long video, it's a good one! I figured it was worth sharing. After watching it, maybe you'll be inspired to incorporate something new into your bedtime stories. Here are some pictures and a few videos of Read to Someone and the Interactive Read-Aloud example. Enjoy!
Students have continued to work on writing stories from their heart...true stories that have happened to them. They just learned that this type of writing is called Personal Narratives. Last week, we began to read lots of examples of Personal Narratives and began to learn the different features that all Personal Narratives have. Students 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!
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. Students will soon learn how to record their thinking so other people know how they counted. Some students will also learn how to use a hundred's chart to help them write bigger numbers. Similar to reading, I have math groups. 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 a new strategy. Here are a few pictures of some counting collections and math tools. I tried to zoom in on a few of my students as they recorded their thinking. I have also included a video of one of my students, Kroy, sharing his efficient counting strategy.
One of the pictures I included is of one of our story problems. I introduce the story problems without numbers initially (replacing the numbers with the word 'some'). Then, students explain what they notice and wonder about the problem. After much discussion, I provide students with the numbers necessary to solve the problem. This helps students understand the action taking place instead of just assuming you add the numbers together every time. So far, I'm very impressed with their ability to think through story problems!