Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts

Let Me Finish!

At about 4 years old, my daughter started to ask me if we were in a book.  What an interesting question.  At almost 8 years old, she continues to get lost in books, is constantly connecting personal experiences to events in books, and must be reminded often to close the book and brush her teeth!  This love for books is something that we wish for all of our students.

At Nerd Camp this year I met Minh Lê, the author of Let Me Finish.  I realized this book was written for my daughter and all of the other children that we want to get "sucked" into books. This is Minh Lê's breakout book and my, oh, my...there is a lot that we (as teachers) can do with it!



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Getting Ready For Kindergarten Literacy Learning

                   
Hello everyone, Tara from Looney's Literacy here. Welcome back to school if you've started and even if you haven't,  I wish you all the best year yet!



I always love this time of year because everyone is so eager to be back. Everyone has rested and rejuvenated. We're learning rules and procedures and we're trying to create a safe culture in our building. I wanted to share some insight I've gained over the years and just this past week which was our first week back.

As an interventionist,  in a building-wide  Title I  district we no longer have criteria for students to qualify for Reading or Math Title I services. They are all Title I, including the staff! Because of this change, we've had to really rethink who receives small group pull-out services and who receives individual services.

Over the past couple of years we've used a literacy learning continuum, MAP & SAT scores  and BOY / MOY  benchmarks for service recommendations.  We have grade level team meetings twice a month to discuss any formative assessment data and who needs extra support.

So today, I'm going to discuss Kindergarten literacy learning and how we determine needs for extra support at the beginning if the year. I can't stress enough,  the importance of developmental milestone awareness. Developmental milestones that include both fine and gross motor development, speech and language development, social and emotional development, and brain development. (They really did know what they were doing when they included child development & psychology as  required courses in the Education Department.)

While literacy learning  is not a linear path, there are developmental milestones that need to be in place to help literacy learning become a  little easier. I like to observe Kindergarten for a week or so to see if I notice recurring behaviors that might raise some red flags regarding some of these developmental milestones. I make sure to see them using a writing utensil (for correct tri-pod grasp), setting on the carpet (spacial awareness & sensory seeking ), participating during their brain break (gross motor activity - because of time constraint I'm unable to observe during recess and P. E. but if I have concerns I ask the teachers about these times), during  independent work time an at the end of the day (social & emotional). Here's a brief list of things I watch for (click image to download document):

I record my observations on this sheet:


At our fist team meeting we'll discuss the teachers' observations and concerns and my observations and concerns. Then we decide how we're going to address the needs. Sometimes it's just a suggested strategy that a teacher uses in the classroom. If needed, I  might work with a small group in the classroom or pull-out. In the most severe cases,  we'll pull out individual students. Some examples of severe cases we've had in the past include, unable to speak in complete age- appropriate sentences, students who have a fist grasp with writing utensils, unable to use scissors, unable to write their name, unable to hear rhymes, etc. 

Stay tuned for more literacy learning strategies for K-6th,  as the beginning of the year continues to progress. You be able to find those here. 




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Creating Our Classroom Enviornment with Books

Summer has ended and for most of us, school has started.  All of our summer planning, relaxation, professional development ideas, and bloggy-inspiration are put to the test.  How are we going to create the classroom environment that we want?  How do we make the kids respect each other and all their differences?  How do I make them listen, trust me, respect me, and want to learn in my class this year?
Books.

Lucky us, there are so many great authors and illustrators that have created some amazing books to help us create the environment that we want.  Books that help us to illustrate good listening and respect for others.  I (Em from Curious Firsties) wanted to highlight a few of these books today.  You will have so many more to add to this list.  Please comment below and let us know what other books we can add to our "back to school toolbox."

Respecting Yourself and Others:



All of these books help our students to understand the importance of being yourself and being different from each other.  I always try to emphasize how boring our classroom would be if we were all the same.  And that I would never want to be in a classroom like that.

For "The Crayon Box That Talked" I ask the students to draw me a picture using all the different colors.  When they open the box of crayons that I hand them, they see that all the crayons are the same color.  They start shouting that they cannot make a picture with just one color.


But I make them do it anyway!  Then they get to color a picture with a regular box of crayons.  We discuss the importance of having many colors in our world, just like we need lots of differences in our classroom.

"Cat The Cat Who Is That?" may seem like an odd book to have on my list.  It is a very simple book.  But I read it right along with "I Like Me."  I want the students to think about why they like themselves.


 After they complete a self portrait, I ask them to mirror the language from "Cat The Cat."  They write "I am _________ the ________." (It is also a great book to begin introducing speech bubbles during that first week.)

"Arthur's Nose," "I'm The Best," and "Chrysanthemum" are all stories that do a great job of illustrating a character that does not feel comfortable with what sets them apart from others.  But as the book progresses, they learn to accept themselves and their differences.  What an important skill to hit over and over and over again.

Building Teamwork:

Teamwork....SO important.  I like to work on this skill throughout the whole year because I really believe that it is a life skill that our students need to survive in any job/career that they enter.  Here are a few books that can be used to help reinforce this skill:

I think all of these books help to set the tone for teamwork in a classroom environment, but it is the activities and discussions that you plan and implement with your students that make the most difference.  One example comes with "Rainbow Fish."  Teamwork is not the focus of this book.  It is more about sharing; however, I use it to teach teamwork by putting the kids into groups and asking them to make a fish together.  Once they work together to complete this task, they receive their "sparkle" fin.


This year I will use "Swimmy" to work on teamwork during our first full week of school.  My entire group of first graders will use their individual fish to create one large fish in the hallway!  I love this visual to help them understand the impact that teamwork can have.

Being a Good Listener:

I know that there are some really good books out there to help introduce good listening skills in the classroom but I want to focus on just one right now.

My firsties think this book is so funny!  They crack up as I read it because Rapunzel does not listen to the prince and throws many silly things out of her tower.  This book has some great vocabulary, includes rhyming, but really serves the purpose I need it to: listening.  Rapunzel is a terrible listener.  Once we complete the book, we discuss what a whole body listener would look like and we label those parts on a person.  The book is so engaging and funny that I can refer back to it and remind them to be a whole body listener.


What books do you use to create the classroom environment that you want?






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5 Engaging Picture Books for Back to School

Hello, all!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars, and I am back to school already!  I can't believe summer is already over!  My son went back to school today, ready for fifth grade ~ his last year in elementary school.

Our students come back on Thursday, and I am ready.  I usually start my year off reading books aloud to my students to get them back into the swing of things.  Here are five of my favorites!

  I love this book because it helps students and teachers realize that school cannot be everything.  In this book, the principal continues to add time onto the school days and year so that students can learn more and more.  What he doesn't realize is that kids need to be kids.  We all need to learn so much more than what is in textbooks.  Go out and enjoy life during and after school!


The first time I read this book, I was completely surprised, and I think students will be too.  In the book, the "father" is getting someone up for the first day of school.  Of course, she doesn't want to get up, much like our own children.  In the end, students are excited to see who really has "first day jitters".
Of course, this school year will be the best!  I love using this book to help students create their own goals for the year.  The book highlights a class of students and their goals for the year.  Last year I used this book with a fifth grade group, and they had some wonderful goals, both realistic and silly.


The Night Before series are perfect for getting students ready for their next year at school.  My little girl started preschool last year, and we enjoyed reading this book as she got ready for her first day.  Each year the books focus on the struggles a student may have that first day to help alleviate any fears.
Who doesn't love Curious George?  Though this isn't the original Curious George, children are entertained by his antics.  He is a special helper in Mr. Apple's class when his curiosity peaks.  Children understand that school can be a place of fun and excitement.

What are some of your favorite books to help students get ready for back to school?





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