We spent a lot of these past few weeks reinforcing the skills and procedures we have learned since the beginning of the school year. In reading, we added Word Work and Listen to Reading to our skill-set. Word Work involves students working on the i-pad on a reading program called i-Read. This is basically a virtual classroom where students learn specific reading skills at their level. Students really enjoy going to Beastie Hall every day to learn new letters, sounds, words, as well as decoding strategies. After conferences, students will be able to access this program at home. Listen to Reading involves students listening to books on CD. It's important for young readers to hear fluent reading so they can learn how good reading sounds. I always explain to my students that fluency is simply making our reading sound like talking instead of sounding like robots. Fluency was something we just started talking about this week, but already, I have noticed so many students making their reading sound like talking.
Some other skills we have been working on include: using the pictures to help retell the story and read the words, finding the first part of words, and thinking about what makes sense when we come to words we don't know. Being independent with so many tasks is quite difficult in kindergarten, but this class can do it! This independence has allowed me to work with Guided Reading groups (small reading groups) nearly every day. I am now able to meet with 4 groups every day, which is AMAZING for any time of the year. As books continue to come home in book bags, please practice retelling the story, pointing to words (making sure the finger matches whatever word your child is reading), and looking at the first part of words and the picture to help them read words they don't know.
Check out the pictures and video below of my students performing 4 of the 5 tasks for Readers' Workshop. The only task we have left to learn is called Read to Someone. This will be taught soon and will only be practiced on Fridays.
Students have come so far in the area of writing. In the last few weeks, we have learned that stories can be told with a beginning, a middle, and an end by using a blank book (3-5 pages of lined paper stapled together). Instead of saying 'I went to the park', students can write, 'One day I went to the park. First, I went down the slide. Then, I went on the swings. Last, I went on the monkey bars. It was a great day.' They have learned that there are so many things to add to stories to make them even better, such as WHO, WHAT, and WHERE in pictures and words, speech bubbles, and details to pictures and words. There's a saying we have learned that goes like this: 'When You Are Done, You've Just Begun'. This just reminds students that there are so many things good writers include in their writing before they are really done. It reminds students to keep working to make their writing the best it can be.
Students have continued to learn how to stretch words slowly, how to leave spaces between words with the use of a spaceman (see below), and how to use writing tools such as the word wall and letter charts to help write unknown words. In addition, we are diving even deeper into writing personal narratives, or true stories from our lives. Students are beginning to learn the characteristics that all personal narratives have. One thing they've already noticed is that personal narratives are told using the word 'I' since this is a story that happened to the writer.
Our writers' workshop always includes a lesson where I teach my students a new writing skill. Then students have time to practice writing independently. During this work time, I meet with students one on one to discuss what they are doing well and one goal they can work on for next time. I usually meet with each student once a week. After writing, we have a share time where I pick 1 or 2 students to share their writing with the class. This is always their favorite part because students love when their writing is made famous. Here is a video clip of our writers' workshop time as well as some pictures from writers' workshop. The picture of Addison Thompson is my personal favorite. I LOVE the pencil behind her ear. Clearly, she takes her writing very seriously!
In the area of math, students have learned SO many new things. After finishing our first problem solving journal (which was really more of a warm up into problem solving to get them used to recording their thinking), students have begun solving more traditional story problems. They have learned that one way to solve problems is by drawing pictures. We will continue to learn more problem solving strategies as the year progresses. Students have also learned how to write number sentences to match their thinking (mainly addition problems).
We have learned more about numbers one through ten: how to write, draw, and count these numbers efficiently. Students have learned that there are different ways to make each number (i.e. 4+1=5, 1+4=5, 3+2=5, 2+3=5). We have continued to build our fluency by counting dot cards and by using ten-frames. Ten-frames are great to help with the strategy of counting on. Students have learned that when a ten-frame is full, that means there are 10 objects on there. They have learned that a faster way to count is by just saying 10, 11, 12, 13, 14...instead of counting every single object (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...).
In addition, we have learned two games for Math With Someone. Our games include Ten Frame War (just like the card game called War, only instead of using cards, we use ten frame dot cards) and Roll and Cover (where students roll a dice and cover that number on the board). We are going to learn and practice a new game called Trash tomorrow. These games are not only fun, but they help to reinforce the various math skills we are working on. During Math By Myself, students are continuing to count various counting collections in multiple ways and are learning how to record their counting strategy.
They have really been responsible in finding spots away from their friends, working the whole time, and staying quiet during both Math By Myself and Math With Someone. Because of their success, I have been able to begin working with math groups. I have only met with two groups so far, but I will continue next week to meet with all groups. Here are some short videos of both Math By Myself and of Math With Someone, as well as some pictures of some counting collections from Math By Myself. The Math With Someone video was taken several weeks ago. They have since gotten much quieter and even more responsible since this video was taken. I'll try to take a new video of Math With Someone soon.
In science, we have focused our attention on what a scientist is and what a scientist does. We have learned that scientists sort and classify objects in the world around them. We have also learned that anyone can be a scientist as long as they ask questions and seek to find answers. We had an opportunity to practice asking questions and thinking like a scientist through the use of a mystery bag (see below). I had a mystery object in the bag (a balloon), and my students had to guess what was in the bag by asking questions about the object. The best part was when my students were able to figure out the unknown object. They loved this! You can try this at home. You or your child can take turns putting an object into a bag and having the other person ask yes/no questions about the object. The goal is to think like a scientist and gather enough information to make an educated guess.
Next week, we will work on sorting and classifying different kinds of objects. Students will begin to record their thoughts in their science journals. Here are pictures of my little scientists. Aren't they cute?
We don't get to play as much as I would like to, but I've tried to let students play at least 10 minutes a day. I truly feel that this is valuable time for students to practice sharing, pretending, and conversing. For the most part, this class gets along and plays together very well. Here are some random pictures from playtime earlier this week. My students especially love to draw and build.