Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Thankful Five

1.  I’m thankful for my family.  I am rich in this department!  I have four beautiful, healthy, happy, smart children and an amazing husband who I cherish every day!

2.    I’m thankful for my parents who raised me to believe in myself, to work hard and to enjoy life.  They set a good example for my siblings and me.  I know how lucky I am to be able to say that!

3.    I’m thankful to have a job in this crazy, difficult world we live in, but I am blessed to have a job that I love.  I look into little faces every day and hear things such as “I like your shoes” or “You are my friend” and I know that what they mean is that they feel safe here at school, in our classroom, with me.  I take this profession seriously because I know that I impact their young lives and I want that impact to be positive every day!

4.    I’m thankful for a caregiver for my children that I trust 100%.  I know that my children get the best care possible every day when I can’t be with them. She’s amazing and I can’t imagine, nor would I want, anyone else caring for my children.  We are blessed to have her in our lives.

5.    I’m thankful for this slicing community.  If it weren’t for you all, I wouldn’t share my writing.  I may not even write!  The feedback and connections that I have made here sustain my writing passion and encourage me on the days that the screen/paper is blank for just a little too long for comfort.  Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Love Mo Willems!

We have been doing an author study of Mo Willems in my kindergarten classroom.  It is my favorite study of the year!  We LOVE Mo!  We've read pigeon books, Elephant and Piggie books, and all the Knuffle Bunny books and we just love them all to pieces!

We have been learning to use a lot of what we learn from him through our reading in our own writing.  To help with this, we created an anchor chart all about Mo.  We learned about direction lines, movement lines, thought bubbles, speech bubbles, big words=loud voice (and little words=whisper voice), and how Mo shows feelings with facial expressions (which we added to the chart after I took the picture).

We talked about each thing that Mo taught us and found examples of them in books.  Then, I began to see them pop up in student writing...and that's when it gets really exciting for me!  Check it out!

Oral story: When I went outside with my daddy we played catch.  He told me "catch" and it went over my head.

Do you notice the speech bubble coming out of Dad's mouth?  And can you find the direction line that follows the tennis ball?  Awesome!

Next, we had to get a little artsy!  Each child was given the choice of three projects and signed up to make either an Elephant, Piggie or Pigeon.  Here is the display in the hallway.  Aren't they just too cute?

We just love Mo Willems!  Do you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Little Peanut Learns to Write

I have a sweet Little Peanut in my kindergarten class this year who is developmentally about 3.5 years old.  Yes, as you can imagine, in a classroom where we are in the early stages of writing, this creates a challenge.  Little Peanut knows a handful of letters and a couple of sounds, and he can recognize a couple of sight words.  Do you think he is a writer?

He is!

In September, he was struggling to hold a pencil.  He had very little muscle tone in his hand and didn't really understand what to do with pencils and crayons.  During writing workshop, we spent our time telling oral stories and learning to expand our stories to include important details and information.

In October, we made the shift from telling oral stories to writing them down.  Little Peanut began his writing journey by drawing a "collection of colors" (aka scribbles).   He could tell an oral story "with prompting and support" and could tell what each color meant in his story. 

In November, things still looked the same, except the pressure he was able to use when coloring was better.  He had gained a little muscle in his tiny little fingers!

While I was pleased that he had come this far, the road ahead still seemed long for Little Peanut.  I decided the next step/teaching point that would benefit him most was a few more drawing lessons.

I began by asking Little Peanut about his story.  It took a little while for him to understand that I didn't want him to orally label his picture (this is the sun, this is the water, this is the sand, etc.).  Once he did, he was able to tell me his oral story: I went to the beach with my mom.

Next, we talked about how important it is to be able to see the things in his picture that he is talking about in his story.  I used a sticky note to demonstrate how I would draw the picture of his story (based on what he had told me about already).

We talked about each element and I asked him to draw the picture again himself.  Little Peanut picked up a brown crayon and got to work drawing the sand.  I walked away.  At this point, I wanted Little Peanut to be independent again so that I could see how much learning he had taken on after our work together.  I may have watched over his shoulder from time to time as he worked, but he didn't know that.  :)

When he finished, he proudly raised his hand and showed me this masterpiece:

In this picture, you can now identify two people (Little Peanut and his mom), the brown sand, the blue sky, the yellow sun and the waves in the water.  Talk about a difference!

I asked Little Peanut to read me his story again.  I was curious if he would tell me the same story or if he would alter it.  He said:

Little Peanut still struggles but he is making great progress and he has such a good attitude about it!  Today, I had the opportunity to do some planning with him before he began to write a new story.  We talked about remembering to draw all the important things so the reader could understand the story.  Because he still needs support with his drawing, that is what we did.  He told me his story and what he wanted to draw and I drew it on a sticky note.

He was excited to get started!  He is writing about his mom driving him to his grandma's house.

It looks like he's off to a great start!

He has drawn the road, the beginnings of a car and the beginnings of a house.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings for Little Peanut!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We Are Blooming!

I absolutely love to watch my students learn and grow!  I know, there probably aren't any teachers out there that wouldn't say the same thing, but this year it just keeps smacking me in the face!

I have a student teacher that does a wonderful job.  She knows what she's doing and what to expect from students, where to support them and enjoys what she is doing.  It's been fun to watch her grow and learn as well this year!

Because she is so capable, I have been able to really sit back and watch my students.  Yes, I see behaviors in some of them that are less that desirable and its often hard to sit back and let her handle it without jumping in to help, but I see her growth when I do so I know how worth while it is.  The best part thought is watching the students really begin to shine.  Last week they were engaged and in love with literacy and math tubs...and I was able to watch it all unfold in front of me.  The flowers in my kinder garden are really beginning to bloom!  Take a look!

You will notice two levels of letter work below - first identifying a letter in an apple card game and then writing letters in sequence.

 Next up, more letter work.  First, students place the magnetic letter over the picture of the matching letter.  The next level is matching the letter to the beginning sound of the word/picture.  Finally, some students are beginning to spell color words.


During math tubs we have been playing a roll a number and write it game, counting by tens and writing the numbers in order, playing a roll and color activity to practice dot patterns and

 And more literacy tubs...we are working on identifying and writing letters.

We also practiced identifying beginning sounds of words/pictures and a roll a sight word game where we identified the word and practiced writing it.

The difference in what my students are capable of doing now versus the beginning of the school year when many didn't know any letters or sounds or numbers is just amazing!  I'm awfully lucky to be able to do this job I love!

Giving credit - I used activities from the following:

The Common Core Diner by Greg Smedley-Warren at Kindergarten Smorgasboard
Apple Letter/Sounds Game, Making Words and More, & All About Bats by Caitlin Clabby at Kindergarten Smiles
Lunchbox Letters by Alessia Albanese at www.mrsalbanesesclass.blogspot.com