Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vocabulary Runway Show!!!

Several times a year I like to have the kiddos do some sort of presentation for their parents. I think it's good practice for them to learn how to speak publicly, plus it gives them another way to apply what they are learning. We all know vocabulary is a very important skill when teaching readers and writers. So I started a tradition of having the kids dress up like an assigned word. Not only do they learn what their word means, but through the practice activities they learn the other words as well. Usually I do this on Halloween, but unfortunately I'm going to miss the festivities this year due to my knee surgery--so we did it today. They did a really incredible job! These are just 2 of our runway walkers:



So they were the word, from that perspective what would they like or not like. It was difficult coming up with 26 different words for them-especially when all my girls wanted "fancy" words! :) But I think it was a great little presentation.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Blue Is Happy Read-Aloud

I have written before about the student book clubs I facilitate for. Quite often colleagues will ask my why I do it (particularly when I'm there waiting for a parent to pick up their child an hour and a half late). There are many reasons, but I think selfishly one of the big ones is that every year I discover new books. The way our club works is the district library services department chooses the books we read. Most of them are Bluebonnet Nominees, and the rest are usually classics.

This book is on our list this year and one of my former students had been asking me for it since she saw the list of books. She said "Miss Trayers, this one sounds really interesting from the title" and I had to agree. So when I was finally able to purchase a copy I dove right in. And I really LOVED it! Then I shared it with our group and I LOVED it even more! I think it makes for a wonderful read-aloud. It's called:

It's about how different people can see things differently. For example to many people blue represents sadness, but not to this narrator. I see so many opportunities to apply this as a Big Idea! I mean who decides what color represents what? Is it society, is it our experiences? It reminded me of an article I read recently in a magazine called Mental Floss (if you didn't know this already, I love learning about the origins of things and useless trivia!). This is the article:

This is what it says about pink and blue baby clothes: "When pink and blue baby clothes were introduced in the mid-19th century, there weren't strict rules for how to wear them. Some people thought blue clothing looked better on blue-eyed, blonde babies and pink on brown-eyed brunettes. Others suggested that boys looked better in pink, because it was a stronger color." Who knew?!

Anyway, I just thought I'd share-I thought it was a really simple story, that could be very thought-provoking! :)

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Higher Level Questions for Where the Wild Things Are

Well, my plan was to post the activity my kiddos did with this book from class last week, but my pics didn't come out very well-so you just get the questions for now! :) We hear a lot about rigor and higher-level questioning with read-alouds. Getting to those higher levels I think is especially difficult in the younger grades-particularly Kindergarten. It's not that they aren't capable; it's just that no one has ever required them to do it before. I've posted previously about how frustrating even teaching the concept of compare and contrast is to kiddos this young. They just can't wrap their little heads around what you are asking them. But you have to push them to that level!

One read-aloud I can practically recite by heart: Where the Wild Things Are, possible comprehension questions that lead to that critical thinking:

Was the mom right to ground Max?
Is this story real or make-believe? Why?
Did Max really travel anywhere?
What was the pattern in the story?
How do you think Max felt when he met the Wild Things?
Why do you think Max left?
What do you think the Wild Things did after he left?
What do you think Max learned from his journey?
If you were Max what would you have done?
Was it right for Max to leave the Wild Things?
You are a Wild Thing, how do you see the world from your perspective.
Create the world you might go to in your imagination?
Create a new version of the story using a different adjective instead of Wild, how does that change the story? (My kids loved this activity by the way-we had Where the Stinky Things Are, Where the Beautiful Things Are...).

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Perspective of "The Dark"

I'm always on the lookout for books that go along with Kaplan's Depth and Complexity. This one is perfect for multiple perspectives as well as appropriate for the October season! The book is:

It caught my eye that the illustrations were by Jon Klassen. It's a story about a boy who has a conversation with the Dark. So we wrote from the perspective of the dark-how does it feel, what would you do if you were the dark? They are still getting the hang of this concept.

I would look safe and be nice.

I would love it because it is awesome.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

So Proud of My Little Writers!

Writing is a passion of mine! Unlike many Kinder teachers I LOVE teaching writing! I understand the frustration because it is very tedious in the beginning. The students don't know they are writers-they haven't all figured out that they can write, even though they may know their letters and sounds, they don't apply that knowledge to sounding out their words in writing. You have to ask them individually what they have written and write that dictated sentence with them modeling for them how to sound out their words. If you do this regularly (we write every day)-they start to make progress. One of the most rewarding things for me, in teaching this grade is the tremendous growth you see them make as writers.

We have been working on using better adjectives. Not just "good" or "nice". Every week probably about 1/2 of our words of the day are adjectives and we add them to the Word Wall as well so they can take them down and use them in their writing. So I read the story to them called "The Ugly Pumpkin"-a take on the Ugly Duckling-the pumpkin finds out he is really a squash. I asked the students to change one detail-the adjective "ugly" to something else-how would that change the details of the story. I was so impressed with the sheer variety of words they came up with for their stories! I just changed my bulletin board last week, but had to take that down and put these up, my little writers! :)

The Exhausted Pumpkin (he is so sad and now he got chosen)

The Lazy Pumpkin

The Silly Pumpkin

The Gooey Pumpkin

Cool Pumpkin (notice the sunglasses)

Famous Pumpkin

Happy Pumpkin

The Lonely Pumpkin

Happy Pumpkin -he wanted friends but they didn't want to play with him.

Popular Pumpkin (on a stage! :)

Sad Pumpkin

                                                     Blank Pumpkin

                                            Scaredy Pumpkin

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Donorschoose Opportunity

I know I've extolled the virtues of Donorschoose before. We have been incredibly lucky-our school has had almost $40,000 in resources supplied since 2009 when I started posting projects.
Right now Chevron is doing their own initiative:
They will donate a portion of their profits in the selected areas this month and for November. If your county is one of the ones listed-I highly recommend that you post a project ASAP! They have done this for the past few years and my students have received everything from mp3 players for their listening stations to books to workstation games. My project that I had posted just got funded last night-there is nothing like the feeling of seeing that e-mail "your project was funded". And the only thing you have to do in return is take pictures of the kids using the resources and have them make thank-you notes, which I believe they should do anyway!

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Another Way to Praise

One of the things I tell my parents at Open House is that students in my room earn their praise. When a student brings their paper up to turn it in with nothing but their name on it-they aren't going to get a "good job". I'm going to remind them what they were supposed to do. I tell them all the time that I want them to impress me and believe me, I let them know when they do.

That being said I do think there is something about everyone that can be praised and appreciated. I remember being a class when I was getting certified where they gave us a list of words we could use to praise kids: great job, super effort, you came to school today! :) That one still cracks me up. At least twice a year I mail home certificates like postcards. I fill them out with something I am proud of them for and mail them to their homes. I know kids don't get very much mail and will be excited to see this in their mailbox!

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