Thursday, November 12, 2015

Writing Like a Scientist!

Integrating Reading, PBL and Writing

This lesson is designed to help my students develop the foundational skills that will move them from emergent readers to conventional readers. I am challenging my students to "think, read, and write like a scientist," and by applying their knowledge of letters and sounds through labeling items and observing objects in our PBL project, Trees, Trees, Trees. Students are encouraged to stretch out each word, listen to the first sound, as well as every other sound after that.

Every kindergartner needs time to explore. By bringing nature inside, I collected and displayed natural objects to enhance my student's sense of observation. All children benefit from nature and learn from nature. I provided a variety of objects for my students to explore. I allowed and strongly encouraged my students to TOUCH.

Animals that live in trees.

Logs, twigs, pinecones, and bark

Leaves, acorns, & seedlings

Let the exploring begin:
Don't forget magnifying glasses and special googles!

I tell my students to embrace the knowledge they have by exploring with their senses.  Children already have their own ideas about nature and living things.  I am helping them find the unique characteristics in trees by touching and exploring first.

The next day my kindergartners explore nonfiction books about trees. Students are exposed to list books, pattern books, and books with simple sentences that revolve around our PBL unit. Students will learn that reading and writing is a tool for learning about science. Looking at and reading nonfiction books about trees gives my students the chance to learn about rich, engaging content. Reading and writing about a shared research topic, such as trees, provides a supportive scaffold where every student feels successful.

In this lesson, students are reading "Learn About The World Books" to help them discover things such as what animals live in trees, why an acorn turns into an oak tree, or why leaves change color. As a teacher, I highlighted and pointed out to students how the author writes in a pattern, labels, 
stays on one topic, writes one sentence on each page, or uses repetitive language on each page.  

Then we go outside with our binoculars and explore and collect some more!

Then we write!

This unit offers an opportunity for my kiddos to apply what they are reading in their books and transfer all that they learned to writing. Taking nature-themed books along with blank sheets of paper inspires my young readers and writers to make connections to their PBL. As a teacher my goal is to check for student's knowledge of concept of print, letter-sounds, and their understanding of nonfiction books. I am looking for early reading skills and behaviors such as one-to-one correspondence, pointing to words while reading, and reading left to right.

Next steps for integrating our PBL project and reading is to show students that information is all around them and as we study trees they'll find themselves wanting more.  We will participate in a shared research project reading from the pages of a big book, poems, charts and texts and then incorporating that information into a shared writing project or book about trees.  Addressing how to gather information from nonfiction books to answer a question about our PBL will be our focus.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Classroom Is Ready!

I made it through our first week!  Nothing is better than meeting your new kinders and sharing with them their new room for the next 180 days.  As a teacher you spend a lot of time in your classroom, so for me, I need to have CHANGE.  It's a BIG job changing the decor in a classroom so this year I kept the same colors, sticking with BRIGHT, and I added more to my room.  I hope you like it!

Starting with my Meet The Teacher gift for my kiddos.  Thanks to Kim Adsit's Open House Unit, my kinders were welcomed with a bag of goodies!

 This is my dramatic play area.  It used to be called the Surf Shack but I changed my colors and added my black/white chevron rug.  My plan is to call this "Home, Sweet, Home" and take a photo of each student then frame it in BRIGHT colors for the wall.  Too cute!

The lighting on this pic is not too well but this is my Math and Engineering area.  This is where my kiddos explore building.  I have many different kinds of building materials in this area.  Under the window is our countdown for "How Many Days In School."  Here we are going to add a number to the 100th chart each day, add a link, fill in the Ten Frame, and build the number.  Looking forward to trying this!
 This is my Guided Reading Table which will be a little different this year since we are beginning Reader's Workshop.  To the left of my table is my NEW rolling Reader's Workshop cart.  I have mentor texts organized by letter, reading tools on the second pull-out shelf, and more reading supplies on the bottom.  My plan is to roll this cart around as I conference with students.

We have a school-wide set of rules that all teachers follow together.  It makes the message consistent and throughout each grade level.  RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, KIND, AND SAFE.  We give out blue awards that the students bring to the principal.  It is a positive system where the students are rewarded by having a chat with the principal about their positive behavior.

This is my calendar board.  I am planning on using the neon caddies as ones, tens, and hundredths and collecting straws.  Pretty simple calendar board but I like it.  Thinking of adding the sight words for the week.

This is my new idea for Student of the Week.  Instead this year we are doing Explorer of the Week!  When it is a child's week they will bring home a suitcase from our class.  Inside the suitcase is Zippy the Zebra who LOVES to travel and a travel scrapbook.  Each student needs to pick a county to travel to anywhere in the WORLD.  Each student will bring the suitcase back to school with things from that country and share with the class.  I have a special table for the items brought to school.  They also have to make a page in our class travel scrapbook.  We will keep track of our travels by stamping our passports and marking our class map!

This is my leveled library where students will shop for books for their book boxes.

Next to the leveled library is the student's book boxes.  This first week of school I will take a picture of each student and place it on their book box with their name.

For the first time EVER, I have focus walls for Language Arts, Math, and Science.  So excited how these came out.  Language Arts includes our Super Readers stamina chart, Common Core standards, Writer's Workshop goals, etc.

My math focus wall will have Common Core Standards, new vocabulary words and anchor charts that go along with the unit.

This is my Math Centers rotation board.  After Math Workshop we have Math Centers for 30 minutes.

This is my morning message board.  Each and every day I will write a message to my kiddos.  Each day of the week I try to practice skills in language arts, math, or science.

This is in my writing center.  Just love my new "Sharp" and "Dull" labels for my pencils.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Parent NIght Ideas

Getting closer to the first day of school and my room is almost ready to meet my little ones.  This is always a hectic time preparing for the first day of school so today I want to help ease the planning with some Back To School night preparations.  Together with my blogging buddies we are celebrating the start of school and the finale of our Linky Party by sharing Parent Night ideas!

I do not know about you but I tend to get the butterflies on this night.  Public speaking always makes me nervous and I definitely loose some precious sleep the night before.  So I came up with a way to help ease the Parent Night jitters!

As parents walk in my classroom I greet them with a little token of my appreciation...a small gift of some sort because we are all in this together right?  We are a team and starting today we are working together to make learning fun!  My husband is in the produce business so I usually have him bring home a box of fresh, juicy apples and I make cute little tags that I attach to each apple for the parents.  

Another go to at Parent Night is I get all my materials ready before I speak.  Take home folders, class mascot, interactive math journal, field trip permission slips, etc.  As I am speaking to the parents all my talking points are there ready for me to share.  

So I found to really take away the jitters I like to go step by step through my classroom website with parents.  My website contains every part of my classroom environment.  A lot of times parents do not know where to look to find information so I take this night to show them how.  Step by step!

Hoping that each and everyone of you has a fabulous school year!  Link up with us and share your plans for Parent Night and we are counting down the days until our giveaway!  2 $50 giftcards to TPT!  Don't forget to link up!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

First Week of School! What to do!

What?  It is the first week of school?  How can that be....feeling a little anxious with the first week of school coming so soon?  Well you came to the right place.  I am here to help you with some great first day activities and calm that anxiety!

Everyone is nervous on the first day of school.  I'm nervous!  I usually do no sleep well the night before because I want everything to go perfect for my new kiddos.  What I found most helpful is keep it simple and fun!  My number one goal is to make sure my new kiddos feel safe and secure in their new classroom environment.  So I begin our morning with of course...a  picture.  You have to take a picture of your new kiddos the first day of school.  It is a must!  Last year I made these cute signs for my kiddos to hold darling!

The first day of school means new backpacks, new clothes, and that perfect hairstyle that you know mom made them wear.  So YES do not forget to take that classic pic!  It always amazes me how they really do not know me yet, but they trust me enough to take this picture.  So sweet!

Another must do for me is I always read them my all time favorite First Day of School book, The Kissing Hand!  The Kissing Hand touches on those first day jitters and missing mom and dad.  To help my sweeties feel at ease I read them the story and then we make these precious handprint puzzles to bring home to mom and dad to remember the first day!  I buy the puzzles at Morrisons's School Supply.   I help each kiddo paint the palm of their hand and then place it on the puzzle.

At the bottom of the puzzle I write their name in sharpie and the date to remember the first day of kindergarten.  Exploration is very important the first week of school.  We spend a lot of time exploring classroom materials and working cooperatively with our new friends.  

We also spend the first week of school focusing on our names.  Each kiddo gets their name puzzle in an envelope.  They put their name together to make their own personal puzzle!

We jumped right into science and STEM by doing our color experiment, rainbow toast, and a carnation experiment.

Wow!  What a busy first week of kindergarten!  Hopefully some of that anxiety is slipping away.  Join me and my blogging friends for our Linky Party.  
We are giving away 2 $50 to TPT!  

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