Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daily 5 Choices

Oh we go!! This year is my second go around with implementing Daily 5 and Cafe from  the Two Sisters.  The first time I tried it (two years ago) it was going rather smoothly and then just fell apart on me. =(

I attribute this to two things. First, I had an extremely challenging class in regards to behavior and academic struggles.  This was just not the year to implement a  new idea for me. I needed to stick with what I knew which happened to be Debbie Diller based literacy centers.

Secondly, I think I was trying to implement each aspect of Daily 5 and Cafe just as the sisters described them in their books and videos. I was also trying to push everything too soon early in the year.  

It took me a while to realize that this was a framework I could tweak and make my own to fit my needs.   So fast forward two years later and my second attempt at implementing my version of this incredible approach.

I decided before school even began that I would be introducing each aspect of Daily 5 / Cafe very S-L-O-W-L-Y.  I started at the beginning of the year with introducing our daily 5 choices (we still call them ABC centers in our room.)  While my students have been working on two rounds of choices I've been working with students on testing and RTI activities.  I've worked with some small guided reading groups but have kept the kids grouped within the same levels and really haven't approached them as "strategy groups" just yet as the Sisters recommend.  Just this week we began discussing our reading "goals" and strategies to help us achieve these goals.

Now I realize that my easel approach pictured above to introducing the goals is just not as attractive as what the Sisters show on their videos on their website.

I even hesitated about posting it. I think we all try to put our best work on our blogs, but I do have a strategy of my own for introducing them in such a manner.

Once all of the goals are discussed and worked with for a while I do plan on creating a Cafe board just as the Sisters describe.  For now we are working with this portable version that I can take off the easel and carry with me as I move  around the room working with students during individual conferences.  I'm finding if I have my folders right in front of them as we read/conference together it helps them to focus and remember the strategies we discussed during our whole group lessons.

You can see that we are just now in the very early stages of beginning Cafe.  For now I'm tweaking my approach each day.  I'll be posting more as we dive deeper into this approach.

We do happen to be enjoying our Daily 5 choices a lot though!! This part of the program is working out very well for me!! I try to add a new activity or material to most of the choice areas each week but I'm not finding it to be as time consuming as planning traditional literacy centers.  I usually leave out previous materials/activities for early finishers and many of the kids enjoy being able to revisit their favorite activities once more.  In my room we actually have 6 Daily choices. I combined and transformed some of my traditional literacy centers to meet the needs of my version of Daily 5.  For now we average two rotations of "ABC Centers" (Daily 5-6 choices.)  Here are our current choices:
Word Work  and Name Work

ABC work


Read to Self

Read to Someone ( I use my old big book-chart center for this choice)

Listen to Reading (listening center/computer reading activities)

Take a peek below at some of our new activities available this week:

For our ABC work choice this week we've began using our cookie letters! This week the kids are working on an ABC order activity.

For word work this week we actually have a few choices available.  The above paper can be used with letter stamps or the students can just write the words.

We are also working with letter magnets and Nn picture vocabulary cards.  I asked the kids to attempt to spell the names of the pictures with our letter magnets.

You can see that one of my little friends spelled "nine" incorrectly.  Another student working with this choice caught the mistake and reminded him to check the back of the card for the correct spelling.

Viola! We now have a winner!!

As part of our word work choices I also include working with names.  They work on these choices in our post office center. However, during ABC centers they only work on the name activities and are not writing mail (we save that for traditional centers.)

For working with names the students can use various materials as a reference for spelling the names correctly.  We have name cards, a name tree and our newest address book that we are using for our message writing in the post office.

For the read to someone choice this week my kids can choose from any of our previously read big books and a pocket chart activity using more of our Nn word cards and popcorn word cards.  

I'm not quite ready to begin working with strategy groups....but it's getting closer!! For now when I'm not assessing I've been working with students who need extra help with letters, sounds and popcorn word fluency.  

My groups this week have loved our letter flip C/V/C word maker.  We reviewed letter sounds first and then focused on words with /n/ in the beginning and ending position.

One of my groups that needs to improve their fluency with popcorn words absolutely LOVED getting to write the popcorn words I dictated on my filing cabinet with dry erase markers! They looked at me like I was crazy and then jumped "write" in! I've done this for years and as long as you erase fairly soon it doesn't stain the cabinet. 

Now as I'm getting closer to working my with strategy groups we are really spending lots of time reviewing our procedures.  For those barometer kids that just have a hard time working calmly or quietly I'm attempting an idea I saw on Pinterest recently.

I believe I'm going to have to work on my version of this but it did word fairly well with a couple of my challenges today.  I had them watch until the majority of the glitter settled to the bottom of the jar and then they could go back to their work.  It really did seem to have a calming effect on them!

So.....I'd love to hear about how implementing Daily 5/Cafe is going for you in your Kindergarten room! Please share!
                                                                                       Mrs. M 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Math ....Tallies and Addition

Oh the joys of technology....can't live without it but yet right now I'm not living with it very well.  Somehow my Google Picassa Album was accidentally deleted and the majority of the photos on this blog were deleted as well.  I'm hoping there is a way to restore them but I'm not having much luck right now. I suppose in my spare time I'll get busy re-linking as many of the photos as possible.

Yay!   Not.  

Anyway it's on to some Monday Math! Before the hub-bub of Christmas gets underway in our classroom I just wanted to have a nice, CALM week of activities not necessarily focused on a holiday or theme.  So take a peek at two of our new math stations that do just that.......

We have been busy bees working on ways to make five.  We've spent time during our calendar time and past math stations on working on this skill. Now we are beginning to work on ways to make numbers 6-10.  For this activity the kids pull a number card out of the box and then form the tally combination to match it.

Using number cards again here is a simple clothes pin addition station.  I think the kids like this one simply because of the cute little pocket chart. This is a "dollar store" find of mine from last summer!  

We do have one new math station that is holiday related this week.  I'm hoping to gradually begin adding all of the Christmas activities so that we aren't overloaded all at once.  We're calling this one "Race to the North Pole."  I have a large 0-10 number line.  The players roll a dice to move their character along the line on the way to the "North Pole." You could use any Christmas stuffed friends for this. We're using a Christmas puppy and Madeline (we will be reading Madeline's Christmas soon.)   

Well I'm off to begin trying to repair the damage to this poor little blog! In any case I'll learn to be a little more careful and I look forward to sharing lots more of what's happening in our room!
                                                                                   Happy Monday!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kindergarten Post Office Phase I

Kindergarten Post Office Set Up
Upon returning from our Thanksgiving break I plan to open our post office center! Needless to say the kids are excited....they've been constantly asking for it to be open  patiently waiting for this center to officially be open!  Now we have used this area as part of our Daily 5 word/name work. So this means the kids are familiar with the area but have only worked on specific activities that focused on their names.   We've also been able to write birthday cards to the birthday boy/girl in class on several occasions. But that's it. Nothing more. They WANT more....and soon!

So in the picture above and others in this post you can see the shelf dedicated to the post office and name center materials.  I love having a center dedicated to writing names/messages instead of just including it in with our writing center. Not only does this give us more spaces and opportunities to work on various types of writing, but it allows those working in the writing center to focus on book making and journal writing.

The first item that will be introduced in our post office center is the name book.  I use it as our "address" book.  I put a photo in of each child and include their first name and last name.  The number reflects their "address"  for the mail boxes they will have later in the year.

Our address book also includes our special class teachers and their mailbox number.  They LOVE to write mail to the special class teachers!!!

In this photo you can see how our phase I materials are organized.  Besides the usual baskets of markers, crayons and pencils we also have our magnet boards, letter magnets, name cards and mini letter tiles for working on building names.  On the bottom shelf we have the additional materials devoted to the post office aspect of this center.

Lots and lots of cute stationary and cards for creating messages.  My mother in law has cards from years of hoarding collecting and will sort them by seasons for me. She also cuts the fronts off so the personal messages, etc are not included.  My kids like to write messages on the backs of the front section of the cards and occasionally I will glue these onto handmade cards folded out of construction paper.  

Envelopes!! Right now we are using white (boring) but I also have a collection of colored envelopes donated frequently to our school.  I try to use colors that relate to the season for Christmas, red /pink for Valentines, etc.  

Our collection of "stamps."  I use various stickers and almost always am able to use the various stickers that come in the mail from magazines, etc.  Again, the before mentioned mother in law and my own mother save these for me. They get TONS of junk mail but I put it to good use! =)

Now this is where I start implementing our procedures for the post office. I used to just have the kids write mail to anyone they wanted in the class by using the address book.  However, the same kids would get TONS of mail and other children wouldn't get any. So my buddy Mrs. B makes envelopes with each child's name on it.  When someone goes to the post office center they have to pick one envelope and write a message to that child.  That ensures that everyone gets at least one piece of mail.  I think we are going to try this and if it goes well the first week I'll allow them to write to one other person of their choosing  the next week while they work in this center.  

I also keep a sample envelope hanging up. I want the kids to see how we are going to address the envelopes in our classroom.  You can see the child's name and their address number. You can also see who it is from, their address and where we put the stamp.  Getting them to not decorate with the stickers and only use ONE as a stamp has always been the hardest part!

For right now the kids will just put their mail in our mail box.  At the end of the day I'll deliver their mail to them during our afternoon meeting.  Later as I implement phase II we will have special mail boxes that the special person will deliver the mail to each day.  I also add several different letter writing activities later in the year....stay tuned! 

I hope everyone has a very safe and wonderful Thanksgiving! I must stop blogging now and get busy cleaning and cooking!
                                                                                                     Mrs. M

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Math.....Adding to 5

Quick calendar activity for adding to 5.  Turn the counters to form a new equation and have a helper put the marker by the correct equation

Happy Monday!! I have a two day week this week....very thankful for that due to having lots and lots to get done before the holiday!  I am currently piloting a new math series again this year. Currently I am piloting Singapore Math and last year I piloted Go Math.  Although I don't feel I've worked with Singapore Math long enough to give my honest opinion I will say that I was a bit concerned that my kids have not been working with adding / subtracting to 5  just yet  (Common Core K.OA.5.) From looking at the series it appears that this is introduced later in the year but I wanted to get a head start on it.  Last year my kids were working with this very early on and since we have several teachers continuing the pilot with GO Math I wanted to cover my bases and make sure my kids were being introduced to this skill early enough.  

So we have been working with various five frame activities in our math stations and guided math groups but I just felt like they were not grasping this concept as quickly as my class last year. I decided to add some "ways to make 5" to our calendar time.  Above you can see the pocket chart I sometimes use for coins to add and match to the date. I tend to change my calendar activities each month so the kids don't get bored. So right now we are using this for our double sided counters.  As a quick review each day I change the colors around to form different equations and then I call on a helper to match the circle counter to the correct number sentence. Quick and simple!  

After we return from our Thanksgiving break I am going to continue with "ways to make 6,7,8,9 and 10."  (K.OA.5 and K.OA.3)  Then we will begin with working on similar activities for subtraction to five.  

So I'd love to know about the types of simple activities you incorporate into your daily routines for "ways to make five!"
                                                                                                     Mrs. M

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Review

It's the week before Thanksgiving and we have lots and lots of fun things happening in our room! Here's a peek at our week and all of the turkey activities taking over our room! Above is a picture of our "Mayflower and Pilgrims" that are currently available in our block area! You have to use your imagination of course but the kids sure are having a good time with it!

One of our predictable charts we used during shared reading time.  Below is the pocket chart activity that went with it. Most of the charts we've used this year involved the kids putting sentence strips in order. For this one I cut up all of the words and they could make the individual sentences on their own.  For many of my kids this was a little early in the year for them to attempt this. For the superstars however it was a nice challenge!  

Our turkey word list and some turkey sentences we wrote together.  

Some of our favorite books about turkeys!! We discussed how these books are different than the turkey facts we had been writing in our journals.  One of my kiddos called them "turkey adventures!!"  So we decided we needed to write our own turkey adventures! Since we are working on our writing stamina during our writing time we've only begun the covers of our adventures so far. I gave each child a blank book labeled "turkey" and a brown circle.  They could turn the circle into a turkey and work on making the rest of the cover beautiful!  We talked about really taking our time with our covers and making them as detailed as possible.  The majority of my kids have been working on their COVERS for two days! I'm hoping their interest continues into next week and they can continue to actually begin writing their adventures!

Some of our beautiful turkey book covers!!

 This week we also compared the real turkey feathers to those colorful types we had available for our projects in the art center. click here to see some of our other Turkey Time activities this week!

Ahhh...the tee-pee.  

I was so thrilled when my kids outgrew this and I could bring it to school!

Then I experienced 20+ five year olds wanting to use the tee-pee at the same time.  

Didn't seem like such a good idea anymore.  

But now that I've had it in my room for awhile I now have a system that seems to be working. We do not use it for reading during Daily 5 (ABC centers in my room.)  It's just too much of a distraction and gets to be too noisy for those walking by it.  They like to peek in the windows a little too much. =)   We use it for traditional centers and only two kids reading in it at a time.  Today I let two kiddos with exceptional behavior read in it during our quiet time! That was a hit and something that I'll continue next week!  

Hope you had an amazing week......I know I'm looking forward to a short week next week and a few extra days off! 
                                                                                                   Mrs. M

Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey Time and Mr. Harry

Well it's turkey time in our room!  The little critters just seem to be popping up in all of our centers and various other activities!  It all started over the weekend when I heard from one of my little smarties mom that her little guy was INSISTENT that Tt was a vowel.  There was no changing his mind about this matter....she said that he even spoke about it to God. Mercy!! But, anyway we figured that it has something to do with the fact that his name starts with "T" and he really wants his letter to have super powers like Super E! on Mr. Harry's Kindergarten page!

Well who wouldn't want their letter to have super powers? However, we needed to get this cleared up so today we began our day listening to Vowel Bat and Super E! from Mr. Harry's You Tube Page.   Afterwards we listed all of our vowels and consonants.  As I pointed to different letters the kids would yell out CONSONANT or VOWEL for the various letters.  Mr. T was not impressed with the cheering section for T being a consonant. 

He told me that he would be working on a way to make a Tt a vowel...... 
I wished him luck in this endeavor. 

However, since Tt is now a spotlight letter for us we began discussing what else but ....turkeys!!!  We added a new activity to our "read to someone" choice during daily 5.  I have incorporated my charts/big book center in to this Daily 5  choice.   The kids could take turns reading "Two Fat Turkeys.' Then they could circle all of the vowels they could find with a dry erase marker.  We did get a couple of t's circled. Apparently we will be continuing to discuss that Tt is not a vowel.  =)

The turkey fun continues in the science center with our turkey feather observations.  We will be recording our observations and turning them into a class book for the science center.

In our art center we have a few pictures of turkeys the kids are using as a reference when they work on their turkey paintings and projects. Check out the fun turkeys below!

We also had a few math station activities focused on turkeys....

This poor activity has seen better days but they still love it! I have turkey cut outs that can be placed on the lines for each verse or they can write the numbers on each line.  Turkey #5 must have decided to escape today because he is currently missing. We're all on the look out for him now! 

For this math station we are making the infamous hand print turkeys. They can choose two colors to fill in their "feathers" and make an equation for 5.

Here's another activity focused on the Five Little Turkeys song. There is a page for each number  that they illustrate. They have a cute little book when finished!  We currently LOVE the 5 Little Turkeys song  from Mr. Harry!  

Now the next two math station activities do not have anything to do with turkeys of course...but they do go with the season!

Fall leaf sticky patterns that students place on their card and then repeat the pattern by drawing the leaves themselves.  I know that patterning is not a Kindergarten core concept...but I still feel it's important for them to participate in patterning activities from time to time.

Simple, but they LOVED the Mayflower Math station!

For this one we have 5 pilgrim passengers on the Mayflower. We then have 5 extras.  The kids then  orally make up their own addition 5 group story problems to go with the manipulatives and then record their results.  

Well we still have a few more fun Fall activities lined up for the rest of the week. But for now I'll leave you with one more of our favorite Mr. Harry turkey videos! WILL be stuck in your brain for a while!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kindergarten Homework Journals

It's hard to believe that we are beginning the second quarter of the school year! I typically love this time of the year with my Kindergarten crew! Those first couple of months can be exciting yet grueling for Kindergarten teachers. The upside is that by this time of the year the little darlings have finally adjusted to being in big kid school and are really ready to absorb as much as they can from us and bloom!

Now is also the time that Kindergarten teachers have a much clearer picture of which kiddos need extra help and who is ready to really take off with their reading, writing and math activities.  I am not a believer in loading kinder kids with loads and loads of homework each night. I have however found a homework routine that has worked for me for several years though!  This routine not only seems to help my struggling learners by reinforcing what we are working on in school.....but also allows my shining stars a chance to work on enrichment activities at home.

In August I posted about parent communication journals.  I've used some form of these journals many times over the last few years. Our school also uses student planners and I've been trying these out as well for the past two years.   Last year I only had my kids complete the student planners and I really missed having my students complete their homework/communication journals.  It just seemed as if the connection between what we working on at school was not transferring back to the parents despite the fact I sent weekly newsletters informing them of what we were working on.


This year I decided to try both. So far so good!

In our student planners I mark behavior for each day and the kids complete the focus letter activities for that week.  It's pretty repetitive so the kids typically have no problems at all completing the handwriting and activities for the focus letter each week. If I have any quick notes for parents I can include this where I mark their child's behavior for the day.

For the homework journals I actually change the activities each quarter.  We start out very simple for the first quarter. It takes us several weeks just to get into the routine of completing and turning in homework!

Now that we are "big kids" we are ready for some more challenging work.  Here is an example of what I place on the front of the journal for second quarter......

Obviously it's nothing fancy but it holds up for the entire quarter! It also helps to just put it on the front of the journal...then there is never a question about what they need to work on for homework.

Here is how our routine works:
  *  Planners are sent home daily and sometime during the week the children are expected to complete the activity for that section.

 *  Homework journals are sent home on Tuesdays.
 *  The kids just have to complete two options.
 *  Options can be repeated throughout the quarter.
 *  The homework journals need to be returned by Friday of each week.  I have several parents with work schedules/times that vary each week. This gives them some flexibility in deciding which nights they would like to help their child with their homework.

The above pic is a bit blurry but you can get the idea of the types of activities that I'm asking the children to complete.  The first section includes activities which focus on using a book....either a leveled reader they brought home or even a book they already have.  The second section includes activities that do not require a book like writing numbers and shapes.

The second section also includes practicing SELF HELP SKILLS!!! By including items like practicing tying shoes and zipping coats in our homework routine I have seen such an overall improvement in how quickly my students learn to complete these skills independently!!! Yay!!!!

I also love it when my parents leave me a comment in the journals about how their child read to them or various other notes about the activities they worked on!   Later in the year when my guided reading groups and math groups are really in full swing I also try to include notes to the parents about how their child did in small group activities for the week.

As we dive deeper into this second quarter of the school year I'm really looking forward to watching my little smarties become excited about all of the fun learning activities that take place during this time of the year.  What an exciting time to be in a Kindergarten classroom! I hope you have an exciting week rest of your week!
                                                                                                                        Mrs. M
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