Students have been hard at work learning the routines and procedures for Readers' Workshop. Once this workshop is fully up and running, students will be able to independently perform the following tasks: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. Each day, students will have an opportunity to complete 4 of the 5 tasks while I work with small groups on targeted reading skills. Although it will take a few months for students to become independent with all of these tasks, it will pay off in the long run. As I've witnessed these past few years, students learn exponentially more throughout the year with the implementation of Daily 5 compared to a year without this structure. Already, my students have become independent with Read to Self and are ready to learn Work on Writing, Word Work, Listen to Reading, and Read to Someone.
To help students become independent with each of these components, I have created anchor charts with my students on the specific step-by-step instructions they are to do during each task. Pictures have also been added to these charts. They serve as visual reminders on what to do for each component of the Readers' Workshop (see procedures and pictures below for Read to Self). Once a chart has been created, students directly practice each item, and slowly, but surely, they build stamina. Our first day of Read to Self, my students were able to "read" independently for 3 minutes. The second day practicing Read to Self, students were able to read independently for 5 minutes. I am proud to say that we are now able to read independently for 20 minutes! It's really amazing, considering many of my students don't exactly know how to "read" just yet.
Even though not all of my students can read words, ALL of my students can successfully read the pictures. Students have learned that there are two ways to read a book: through pictures and through words. This beginning skill of reading pictures will help students quickly develop the skills necessary to read the words. I have also done many lessons on how to read books: how to hold a book, how to point to the words as we read, how to use the pictures to help us read the words, which direction we read words, and how to get our mouths ready to say the first sound when we come to an unknown word. My students have also learned that you can cross-check when you come to a word you're not sure is correct. This simply means they ask themselves: Does it look right, sound right, and make sense? We've worked on phonological awareness skills as well: rhyming, counting syllables in words, and hearing and identifying beginning sounds in words.
"The Book Fairy" has also been extremely motivating in our reading adventure. She leaves books and materials in a book basket each day to help us become better readers. Oh, how my students LOVE The Book Fairy! They truly believe she is a magical creature who wants them to love reading as much as she does. My students have already received individual books from The Book Fairy to add to their reading boxes. These are the books that they know really well and can practice throughout the Readers' Workshop. Students have absolutely LOVED receiving these new books!
Here are the pictures and procedures from Read to Self:
Also, here is a recent video of one of our sessions. Watching this again, I seriously can't get over how well this group is doing! One of the things we have really worked on is pointing to the words as we read. So many of my students were doing just that in the video below. They have taken on the role of 'reader' very seriously. I can't wait to see them really take off when we begin reading groups in the next few weeks. I have also included a video of cleaning up. We really don't have time to waste in our day, so cleaning up quickly and quietly is essential. Whenever my students hear the chimes, they know they are to stop right away and begin to quickly and quietly clean up. They have gotten to be pretty efficient if I do say so myself!
Similar to our Readers' Workshop, we also have a Writers' Workshop. Essentially, it's the same concept: students learn to write independently so that the teacher can work with students individually or in a small group. We started off slowly, creating an anchor chart to know exactly what to do during this time. We also took pictures to help us remember each of the procedures. We have also been building stamina. Students have gone from being able to write independently for 5 minutes to being able to write independently for 30 minutes.
I have also done many lessons on how to write. Students understand that there are three ways to write: drawing the pictures, writing the words, and adding details. Currently, they are learning that 'when they think they are done, they've really just begun'. They have learned that details can be added to both their pictures and their words to tell more of the story. This week they are going to learn that leaving spaces between words makes writing easier to read.
All of my students feel successful at this point because they understand that even if they can't write yet, they can draw pictures to help tell the story. I am truly amazed at my students' writing and illustrating thus far. After several lessons on how to stretch out words and write down sounds, nearly all of my students have attempted to incorporate words into their writing.
We are currently writing true stories from our lives (personal narratives). Soon, we will begin reading personal narratives written by published authors to help us learn how to write this particular kind of book. Students have learned that some of the smallest moments in our lives can make the best stories. They have embraced this concept, and I am loving the memories my students are sharing. Currently, I am keeping their writing pieces in individual files. At the end of each trimester, I will put the pieces into a file for you to keep. I will also share these writing pieces with you at conferences.
Here are the pictures and procedures as well as a short video from Writers' Workshop.
In math, we have been learning several routines and procedures as well. This is the fourth year I am attempting to do the Math Workshop approach. Very similar to the Readers' Workshop and the Writers' Workshop I just described, Math Workshop involves students working on tasks independently while the teacher works with small groups of students. These small groups of students will consist of students who are working on similar math skills. I truly believe this approach will allow me to meet the individual needs of my students. I can challenge them exactly where they are at. Currently, we are learning the procedures for Math By Myself. This time involves counting various collections of random objects and recording their thinking. We will also add number writing to our list of things to do during Math by Myself. Eventually, we will learn more tasks, but for now, these two activities will help deepen each students' sense of numbers. Here are some pictures and a video from Math By Myself.
Students have also begun to solve problems in our problem solving journals. These problems will help students understand how numbers and operations work together. We are currently learning that one method to help solve problems is through drawing pictures. We have also worked a lot on knowing groups of numbers quickly and efficiently on dice, Rekenreks (a special math tool similar to an abacus), and on 5 frames. My students can quickly recognize groups of objects 1-5 on each of these objects.
Aren't my students amazing? I am thoroughly impressed each and every day at all they have learned in just 12 days. If this is any indication of what they are going to accomplish, I think it's safe to say they will find a lot of success this year. I look forward to having a front row seat to these successes.
I would like to end this post by sharing a funny story. One of my students earned a Titan Ticket. After receiving it, he said, "This is my third Titan Ticket of the day!" I gave him praise and said, "Good job!" He then proceeded to say, "Man, I'm really starting to figure this school thing out!" Well, that makes one of us! I am STILL trying to figure this "school thing" out as every day of teaching brings new surprises and challenges. Even though I still laugh about that story, it reminds me that these kids really do have so much to learn when they enter kindergarten. It's probably very overwhelming, but my students have handled it with such grace and excitement. It's been a pleasure to witness their accomplishments thus far!