Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Estimation


Happy Tuesday, friends!

We've been STAAR testing all day...luckily, I haven't had to administer the test..BUT we share a wall with a testing class so that is almost as awful as giving the test, right?! I mean, Kindergarteners were not meant to be silent! My blog name is "Rowdy" for a reason!

This week in math we are introducing estimation. Is this concept abstract, or what?! To begin, I spend an entire day on making REASONABLE guesses. What is reasonable to a 5 or 6 year old? 

Well, running around Firehouse Subs while smacking your little brother with the plastic firefighter hat is what my daughter apparently believes is reasonable. Oy 've!
{she really is sweet most of the time..but c'mon! they all lose their marbles periodically}

You get the point. 

They are so not reasonable! So, we have to explicitly teach the difference between reasonable and unreasonable...well, as well as you can teach a 6 year old.

I began by giving some oral examples. 
"I think I might need 400 glue bottles to finish this art project."
{hysterical laughter ensues}
"No, Mrs. Alderson, it would only take 1 glue bottle!"

and the list goes on. It really is hilarious to a kindergartener to talk about "unreasonable" estimations. Although we were forced to be silent, we had fun coming up with some silly unreasonable and reasonable estimations. I put my students in partners and we came up with some scenarios to share with the class. We worked in groups together to sort these cards:
I'll be back tomorrow with the second part of our estimation introduction!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Jack and the Beanstalk!

Hi friends!
I wanted to share a little bit more about the close reading we've been doing the last few months. 
I'm. in. love!

I pretty much follow Tara's model of close reading- it's totally applicable to our little ones and works so well! I own every close reading pack she has- they are fabulous!! {Jack and the Beanstalk is not in her units- but my partners and I wanted to read it during our plant unit} This week we read Jack and the Beanstalk and I wanted to share with you a little about it! Here is my plan- it's just a "loose" version- for the questions on Wednesday I usually go through the book with sticky notes and write my questions out. Otherwise, sometimes I forget exactly what page I wanted to ask the question on. {Click on the picture below to snag up the lesson plan}
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9UlJnYD3dZGWGZNSGNhY3ZXWmM/edit?usp=sharing
After a "cold read" on Monday, I have my students share their "I wonder" questions with each other. Sometimes we just share out loud, sometimes I have them write them out. I love hearing these, because, seriously! they think of things I never would have wondered. I like to guide our conversations in a certain directions or investigate more if they tend to be all wondering the same things.
 On Tuesday, we listen for a new purpose: Vocabulary. I like to give my students ownership of this. I use highlighter tape to tape over the words that they pick out. I stop after reading each page and ask if anyone heard something unfamiliar. I highlight everything they ask about and then we go back and weed out some of the words. Then I have the students help me with the definitions. We turn and share what we *think* the word means and then I give them a definition. We usually make up silly motions and act it out- I want these words to stick! {my kids will gasp at hearing a vocab word months after we have learned it in a different text than the original!}
I forgot to take a picture of my focus board this week- but I write the words on sentence strips and place them in a pocket chart. 
{One of our words this week was "frustrated"- see how my student used the word in her writing!}
On Wednesday, we always ask text-dependent questions. This can be anything- it just means that my students have to cite their evidence and be able to justify their answers. We use highlighter tape for this too- OR if I have a digital copy of the book we highlight on the Smart board.
 On Thursday, I usually have one essential question that my students work together in groups to answer. Sometimes I have them work together on a large sheet of paper, sometimes they each work on their own paper and present as a group- it really just depends.
This Friday we started out writing project...but didn't finish! It was a busy day! It includes a fun craft that I will be sharing with you soon! I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit more about how I close read in my class!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fluency practice!

Hi friends!

We've been working really hard on fluency and inflection in our voices lately in class. I *love* using this quick,easy peasy, fast, effective, and engaging {can you tell I puffy heart love it?!} fluency activity with my kiddos.

I just write sight words with a punctuation mark after each one down a sentence strip.
Yep. 
It's that easy.
And it REALLY helps my kids to recognize the change in their voice when reading. Early on in the year I do this same thing with letters, but we're past that point now. You could easily do this with CVC or CCVC words, etc. to make it suit your students best. I could use complete sentences, but when I really want them to practice with punctuation, I whip these puppies out and practice. It's a great warm-up at teacher table!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Story Problems!

Hey you guys!

It's about that time of year when we're really focusing on using all the different strategies that we've learned in math and combining them all! Of course, we still get out the manipulatives to solve our story problems but I wanted something that could be a quick practice used daily. I made up this little addition and subtraction story problem pack:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Addition-and-Subtraction-Story-Problems-for-the-Common-Core-1173016
The story problems are on half a sheet of paper to cut down on waste. I hate printing out stuff like this on a full page- unless something really good is on the back! :) And- I know some of you have to buy your own paper- so I figured you'd appreciate that.

I've been using these along with my calendar time and I LOVE how quick we can go through all of the strategies together- or independently! There are a set of subtraction and addition problems each that are both differentiated for 1-10 or 11-20 depending on the level of your students!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Addition-and-Subtraction-Story-Problems-for-the-Common-Core-1173016
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Addition-and-Subtraction-Story-Problems-for-the-Common-Core-1173016

If you want to try this pack out- click the picture below to snag a little freebie!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9UlJnYD3dZGLXd0b2FHVVAxMm8/edit?usp=sharing

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Close Reading

I'm SO excited about this post...I've had it written in my head the past few weeks so I hope that YOU will be just as excited as me!
I'm sure you've heard about close reading by now. It's all over blog-land and TpT and have you been to a professional development on it yet?! I went to a workshop last summer during our district's leadership conference and it was awful it left me thinking "mehhh." And...I wasn't quite sure how it was applicable to my kindergarten classroom.

I think of the hours upon hours that (as a student) my teachers taught me how to go back and annotate and highlight and FIND THAT ANSWER! {It  is testing season, friends!}

But that's not what close reading is all about. It's about digging deeper than the text and activating our student's schema and making new connections. We are using higher order thinking but basing our answers within the text. We find the evidence {OK?! you upper grade teachers! They are being taught SO young how to do this!} and ask "how did you know that?"

I am really a beginner at this...but seriously, it is amazing the vocabulary and language that our students are using! For most of my guidance I've used the internet and a lot of Tara's guidance!
So..to start off we only read 1 book a week {yes, we read many other books for other subjects- but for reading, we stick to 1 text} I like to have something to anchor my students to throughout the week..so I created a focus board for our close reading. Anyone could walk into our classroom and see what we are learning for the week.
{I apologize for the glare...I just have this up on our whiteboard so I can use magnets to tack everything up} I hope to make it an entire bulletin board next year when I have time to rearrange things. If you'd like to snag the labels I used for this board, click HERE. I just backed them on teal construction paper, laminated, and cut to size!
 {don't mind that question mark...totally unrelated to close reading- just higher order questions I ask my kids throughout the week}
Essential questions set the focus for the lesson. I like having my question posted so that we can refer back to it as the lesson moves on. On the day that I took this picture, our focus was vocabulary. {always on Tuesday- day 2} We read through the book for a second time and highlight (on the Smart board) words that were unfamiliar. My kids are SO good at this! It really encourages a child's natural curiosity- so many times they come up with words that I never would have picked out myself. This way they are taking ownership of their learning. {of course...I might "guide" them a little bit to the words I really want to focus on} ;)
I put our words in a pocket chart- I would prefer to use chart paper...but I'm seriously out of room and the pocket chart fit perfectly in the space I have. My KIDS come up with the definitions (with a little guiding of course) Sometimes we do this as groups or partners and act it out - it all depends on what is appropriate for the day and book.
This week we have STAAR testing and my classroom shares a wall with a testing grade so we couldn't get rowdy doing vocabulary. Instead, my students illustrated the definitions in their own way. I love how this student showed "germination"!
I hope you're intrigued!! I will be back with more soon! If you're interested- Tara from Little Minds at Work has some GREAT posts on close reading. Hop over to her blog to check them out!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Planting word families FREEBIE!

Good morning!
Y'all..... Ella and I had strep throat this week!! Ahhhh! It was miserable! I have not had strep since I was 20- I remember the last time fairly well because I ended up getting scarlet fever! Like, for real, y'all. Didn't think it still existed?! Well, I proved that wrong! lol!! It was my own fault because I wasn't resting like I should've and I ended up having to go to the hospital..so, needless to say, this time I was terrified of not resting enough. I finished 2 books laying in bed for 2 days. It would have been kind of glorious if I hadn't felt so crummy!

All is well now though and MAYBE I can actually get back to blogging. I missed 2 days of school this week, and you guys know what that feels like! I was playing catch-up and clean-the-disaster-that-the-sub-left-my-room-in when I got back.

I wanted to re-share with you a little freebie I made a few years ago that my kids love! We used it in stations this week! Hop on over HERE to snag the freebie up!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Planting-Word-Families-223434
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stickers!

Hey y'all!
I'm just popping in really quick- I'm on Spring break and promised myself I wouldn't do *too* much school stuff! We've been running around all week doing fun stuff and spending lots of quality time together.

I wanted to share with you a little trick that I use occasionally when my students have spring fever and start slacking don't quite remember everything we've worked on in writing.
I use this with my kiddos when I first teach finger spaces waaaaaaaaay back in the fall but then they start getting it and we drop them. I let them put stickers *only if they leave good finger spaces* when we go back to check our writing journals. It's an easy-to-incorporate tip that saves me when writing!
I hope you can use this quick tip in your class- it's amazing what a 5 year old will do for a few stickers!