Friday, July 19, 2013

Jetlag Strikes! I Teach K ~ Day 3

Well, jetlag made an appearance the last two days and I was so spent that the effort to start a blog post did not happen.  But that just means you get a two-fer today! 

Yee!Haw! Numbers Round-Up-Kim Adsit

Take Away 1:  Always plan your math lessons so that the kids are defending and sharing their thinking.  "How did you get that answer?"  "What was your thinking for this problem?"
My little ESL kiddos are not quite going to have the vocabulary to give me an explanation until almost the lasts trimester (yes, we have trimesters instead of semesters).  What I think I might do instead is make some strategy cards.  Then students can point to the one they are using (if it's on there) and say a simple sentence frame like "I used strategy number ___."  Something like that - this is just my off the top of my head idea so if you have a better one please share!
Take Away 2:  Headband game for "Who Am I?"  You remember that game you play where you stick a card to your forehead and people give you clues to guess the card?  The genius of Kim Adsit has created a math version for kids using a stretchy headband and Velcro.  Everyone say it with me now..."Genius!"
I thought I'd be nice since I don't have her permission to post this pic on my blog. 
It is hard to see but she is wearing a dot plate card on the headband and receiving clues to guess the number 3.  I love how it encourages my little guys to talk and participate in using English.  Since my time with them is super limited I love anything that covers multiple objectives at one time!
Take Away 3:  I also learned all about the power of the rekenrek.  I had seen them before but never knew much about them.  Now, thanks to this session I feel adequately trained to use them in my classroom.  I can't believe how simple they are to use - so much better than an abacus.
I think the best thing about the rekenrek is that it requires students to start with all the beads on the right.  This way when they slide them to the left they are then reading the "numbers" from left to right.  I just have to say it again - genius! This is absolutely perfect for my kiddos because they speak Arabic which is read from right to left so it will be very natural for them to start on the right.
Take Away 4:  Teacher created rekenrek from PVC pipe and pool noodles.  I will definitely be getting the parts for this before I head back overseas.  In fact I am already planning out my Walmart trip for later today...
Take Away 5:  This is one we all probably know but I liked the reminder.  Teach all the strategies spending many lessons with them and then have students choose which one(s) work best for them.  I really need to keep this one in mind.  It's so tempting to rush through everything (especially if following a program) but I need my students to build that number sense.  I think Kim's numbers unit is perfect for this.

Early Intervention Aid for Kindergartners - Kim Adsit

Have you ever seen Kim at a conference?  She had me laughing so hard over this story of a little boy with Southern attitude who gave strange alien beeps and boink noises through the letter assessment.  It was so funny because I could relate.
Take Away 1:  Like Ron Clark, Kim Adsit suggests teaching to the middle.  You can spend all your energy all day every day and those low students just won't get it.  If you focus on the middle students at the start you can pull them up to grade level (or close) and then have time to work with the low students.  It makes sense.  Just think about how quickly those middle students can progress when they get that little push from you.
Take Away 2:  Sight word rings.  I have used these in the class and have plans for them again this year but now I have a new take on it.  Give students just the words they know on their ring.  Keep three baskets labeled 0-3 for students to place their word rings in after practicing.  Depending on how many they missed, they place the ring in the appropriate basket.  Then you add new words to their ring.  You always want them practicing three words they don't know.
I will be using my word wall wallets for next year.  I am planning on having students keep them in baggies just in case I find little flash cards everywhere.  Plus I will have them add their name (or number or icon - whatever system I decide to use) on the back of the cards so I can easily return them to their owner.  Then students can place their wallet in the appropriate basket after practice.  Because of time constraints I think I will do it by table group maybe once or twice a week.  I will have to see how my schedule looks and when I can fit it in.
The word wall wallets will allow them to have the best of both worlds - see all the words they need to work on AND only have the cards they know (plus their 3 unknown).  I will be creating a Fry's version soon - these are using the Dolch set. 
Take Away 3:  Number necklaces for differentiated instruction.  The kids wear a necklace with a number card on it.  The numbers are hole punched up to the number the student knows.  Students will begin practice starting with the last hole-punched number.  This one will require a little thought for me on how to incorporate this into my lessons.  Any ideas out there?

Simple Science - Shari Sloane

Still with me?  I know this is a long post.
Take Away 1:  Shari has a wonderful song about the five senses that she showed us a great action - perfect for my ESL kiddos!  Love you Shari! 
Take the fingers of your hand (either hand) and as you sing you will touch one finger to each sense, starting with your thumb on your ear.  Then move down your fingers towards your pinky.  When you finish singing about hear, see, smell, taste, touch your pinky will wiggle in the air for touch.  Brilliant!
Take Away 2:  Science Light Station
Provide students with a flashlight and assorted objects.  They will shine the flashlight on the object and see if the light goes through.  This will be perfect when we are studying the sun and night/day concepts.  Plus it's easy peasy lemon squeasy!

Emergent Writers - Shannon Samulski

Take Away 1:  Students are now coming to school lacking fine and gross motor skills they need for writing because they are plugged in and/or parents aren't encouraging things like finger painting and playdoh.  Shannon suggests having a fine motor station in kindergarten all year long.  Students can do things like push beans in a small hole on the side of a water bottle, hide 10 beans inside of playdoh and squish them out using only one hand, and flipping over cards or pennies without sliding them off the table to pick them up.
I think I'll set some of these up and it will act like a free choice center when they finish their work.
Take Away 2:  When practicing letter formation, try to keep things two-toned.  This helps the brain remember.  Some easy ways to do this:
* two-toned sand
*placing colored gel baggies (ziplocs filled with hair gel) on top of a contrasting construction paper color
*two colors of paint in a ziploc
Take Away 3:  Since students begin learning to write by first draw pictures, begin your writing lessons with drawing.  Then gradually add in putting words to pictures once they have told a story through their illustrations.
Well this was a very long post - thanks for hanging in there!  I will post all about day 4 later.  It was another day full of great information.  My poor brain is on overload.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Day Full of Literacy ~ I Teach K Day 2

Today was a day chock full of literacy and the great blog meet up. 

Catching Readers Before They Fall - Katie Keier

Katie is the co-author of the popular summer book study book of the same name.  I was expecting some good information and I feel she did not disappoint.  However, to really get into the meat of the topic the session could have been more than an hour. 

Take Away 1:  Believe you are the one who will teach them to read and write.  In other words, don't look to pass the buck but instead embrace and take ownership of this fact.

Take Away 2:  When teaching directionality, Katie does what she calls "hop on my finger."  Students simply place their finger on top of hers as she points and reads the words.  I'm thinking this would also be a great partner reading activity.

Take Away 3:  What we place the most importance on in the classroom is conveyed to the students as being the most important.  If you are only ever killing and drilling letters students will miss the idea that reading has meaning and involves thinking.

Take Away 4:  When building a name center, students can create their own name bottles by finding their correct beads for their name to place inside.  Give them ownership of this!  Katie also takes it a step further and places name cards with photos at the center so students can figure out whose name is spelled in the bottle they have chosen. 

Assessing Comprehension - Trish Saccomano

Take Away 1:  Pretelling is thinking in a sequential manner.  Practice pretelling by creating anchor charts with the students that identify steps needed to perform a task.

Take Away 2:  Retelling idea with puppets - create a slit in the paper for the backdrop of the puppet show.  Then students can place popsicle stick puppets through the slit and the puppets become mobile.

A-B-C, Come Learn With Me! - Kathleen Pedersen

This session had so many take-aways it will be hard to narrow them down.

Take Away 1:  Make a pull the stick from the tub game cheat proof by covering it with a sock.   Who knew?  Now kids can't see when they reach in to pull one out.  Genius!

Take Away 2:  Always keep in mind that your goal for the alphabet is mastery and automaticity.  Think of this goal when choosing activities for the students.  Will it help them make this goal?

Take Away 3:  Ideas for the ABC arc (which I've been using for years now and just love):
                        1.  Guess the Letter
                        2.  Speedy Alphabet Arc
                        3.  Closest to Z...or Closest to A (partner race)
                        4.  Listen and Find

 Blog Meet Up

Awesome!  Honestly I was feeling seriously jetlagged and very close to not going.  But I peeled myself off the hotel bed and forced myself to go.  It was not a disappointment!  It was great meeting so many wonderful teachers and speaking with them.  DeeDee Wills ~ you are a riot!
The Dinner Crew plus Cara
DeeDee and I
Don't forget to link up and share your own take-aways from the conference!  Please link back to my blog when you do. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"I Teach K" My Take-Aways Linky Party

I am so excited to be at the I Teach K conference in Las Vegas that I wanted to create a linky party where everyone could share what fabulous things they are learning.  How will you take what you are learning and bring it back into your classroom?

The Rules:

The linky starts Tuesday, July 16th and ends Saturday, July 20th.  This gives you a few extra days after the conference to gather your thoughts and start blogging.   I am going to try to blog my take-aways daily so I don't forget them! 
Try to think happy thoughts.  I want this linky party to be a place for thoughtful, inspiring "a-ha" moments.  Any extreme negativity will be deleted in honor of one of my Ron Clark take-aways.
Last, link back to my blog.  Happy learning!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vegas Baby!

I was traveling to the USA for the summer anyway when I discovered there was going to be a national teacher's conference in Vegas at the same time.  Why not? I thought and immediately registered.

Today was day one of the conference and it was, to quote Guiliana Rancic "amaze-balls."  Truly.  Here are just some snippets of my take-aways.

Marvelous Math Journals - Cyndi Giorgis, Ph.D.

Take Away 1:  Start off slowly and build towards using math journals.  Don't start on Day 1 and expect success.  It is a long process of increasing print awareness before students will be successful with journals.  Of course this all depends on your class.

Take Away 2:  Writing begins with reading.  (You're probably thinking "Well, duh"...but it's such an important concept I thought it deserved credit in print).

Take Away 3: 
Find the book Windblown by Edouard Manceau.  This adorable book has a TON of great uses and shows these windblown shapes that turn themselves into multiple animals.  Great math book (shapes, transformations, sequence) but also good for retell and science (hello, weather!).


Alphabet Activities in Kindergarten - Shari Sloane

Take Away 1:  Have a large easel alphabet chart for yourself and individual, matching alphabet charts for each of your students when reviewing daily letter names and sounds.  Later, progress to digraph/blends charts the same way.  Send them home to your parents as well!
Take Away 2:  Friday homework shares (or in my case Thursdays).  Have students partner share their homework once a week to two partners.  Then do a museum walk in the circle so all students have  a chance to see everybody's homework.  They then earn a sticker on their homework chart.  I think this will really help to get more participation with homework - kids would hate feeling left out if their was a weekly sort of celebration.
Take Away 3:  Get in the habit of having students share with partners for accountability.  Especially useful in completion of center activities.  "Tell a friend what letter you found and show them where it was."  Great for my ELL's for speaking. :)

Celebrate & Appreciate: Lyrics to Literacy - Debbie Clement

Take Away 1:  Be engaging!  She had such a high energy and had me laughing a lot.  The kids will eat it up.  I know this one is also obvious but sometimes it is so hard to bring in that high engagement when all you want is 5 espresso shots and/or 12 hours of sleep.
Take Away 2:  Sign language can be the common thread to bring multi-nationalities in a diverse ELL classroom together.  Some signs will also be helpful to communicate meanings like dream, book, read, sing.  Love the idea of the active participation sign language brings to stories and songs as well.

Super Sight Words -Lauren McCann

Take Away 1:  The Sight Word Song Recipe - commonly known songs that can be used specifically to sing with any 2, 3, or 4 letter word (depending on the song).  However she did caution to keep the song tune specific with one sight word so it would cue auditory learners to that specific word.  One thing I did not agree with:  she kept spelling "me" as "M and E".  My ELL's would get seriously confused if I used "and" to spell the word - they might think there were 3 letters!
Take Away 2:  Pair words with actions that make sense.  For example, when spelling eat make eating motions and/or munching sounds to go with the word.
Take Away 3:  Discovering letter formations can be done through many tactile ways including using pipe cleaners for round area of letters and attaching them to popsicle sticks for straight areas.

Ron Clark

Take Away 1:  What you exert in the classroom will return to you.  If you are only giving 10 percent, expect 10 percent from your students.  High energy will create enormous buy in with your students.
 Take Away 2:  It's important to foster a close community among parents, educators, and students.  Make sure your students are seeing you engaged in fun ways with your colleagues.  Make jokes together, hug, laugh.  Tell them you are family and have each other's back when someone says something negative.  Which brings me to...
Take Away 3:  You cannot "fuss" at a child until you have built a connection with them that shows them you truly care, love and respect them.  Otherwise the fussing will show as belittling and do nothing to help their self-esteem.  Besides, it will make you feel as low as dog poo afterwards (that's from me, not Ron Clark).
Take Away 4:  Even Ron Clark has days when he wants to quit and not get out of bed for the day.  Even Ron Clark has had days where parents complain about unfairness or other teachers complain about how he is teaching in their classroom and showing them up.  But sometimes, he said, you just have to close your door and do what you know is best for the children.
Take Away 5:  Not every child needs (or deserves) awards.  This one I whole-heartedly agree with.  Too many times I've seen co-workers who at the end of each semester want to give every child a certificate.  But we are not fostering the desire for high achievement and earning awards/rewards if we are coddling children and just handing them something for doing nothing.  Not every child on the little league team needs a trophy.  Not every child in your class should get the reward for doing the work - it is not based on effort.  It is based on their result.  I grew up not always getting a certificate or award and it made me work harder to try to get it for next time.
Take Away 6:  Always set the bar high and the children will reach to achieve it.  But do not set the bar on the top level and say "good luck" while you stand back and hope the mat will break their fall.  Give them the tools for success to reach the top.  This is what teaching is all about.
*  *   *
I think I could go on and on but it is now quite late.  There is another full day tomorrow plus...
Super excited!  Hope I can get some sleep.

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