Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I see...

Kindergarten EL students have been focusing on strengthening their reading, listening and speaking skills. One way we do this is by learning vocabulary for a book, which will be read aloud to their peers in their classrooms. 

Prior to being given their books, students listened as I read it aloud, pointing to the words. Because it was a pattern book, I used one color for the words that remained the same throughout the book and another color for the word that changed. Because many of us are visual learners,  I included a picture for the object to give students a clue, knowing that some vocabulary words were unfamiliar or difficult to read (ie: shamrock and leprechaun). 

After listening to me read the story aloud, students then took turns reading in front of the group. The more they were exposed to the words and visuals, the easier it was for them to remember the words. 

By the time they were given their books, they were very familiar with the story and were ready to read it aloud in front of their peers in the Kindergarten classrooms. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We Love to Jump Rope!

For the past month we have been doing jump rope activities in P.E. The younger grade levels focused on different skills and tricks for over a week and then did a variety of jump rope stations.  The older students have been using jump rope as our daily warm up.  They can take this time to practice skills they love, skills they want to get better at, or to see how long they can go without stopping.  

This year, I implemented a Jump Rope Club.  There are 4 different clubs available.  The first club is exclusively for 1st Grade.  It is the 30-Second club.  Any 1st Graders that can jump rope for 30 seconds without stopping get to sign their name on the wall for everyone to see.

The other 3 clubs belong to 2nd-6th Grade.  These clubs are: The 1-Minute Club, The 2-Minute Club and The 3-Minute Club.
The rules are:
- You can do any jump rope skill you want as long as the rope passes under your feet on each turn.
- You only have once chance a day.
- You can only join one club a day.
- You cannot move onto the next club until you have completed the club before.
(I broke this down in video-game language - they are "levels" and everyone starts at level 1.  You cannot move on to level 2 until you have beaten level 1.)

Once the students have completed the level, they add their name to that particular wall/sign.  It has been such a fun challenge the past few weeks.  The kids are so excited and so determined to make it to each level.  Each day they are begging to do it again!


Many of the students have expressed interest in getting their own jump rope.  So... if you're looking for an inexpensive gift for your child, here is a chart of what size to buy based on their height.  The older kids prefer the licorice/speed ropes and the younger kids like the beaded ropes better.  But, any rope will get the job done!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Kindergarten Student-Led Conferences

In the fall, Kindergarten did a traditional parent teacher conference. However, this time around we organized student-led conferences! With this setup, the students are in charge of everything! We spent the last two week preparing for conferences by practicing games, setting goals, and finding books at our reading levels. We even practiced by showing our 6th grade buddies a preview of the conference! Student-led conferences can be organized in many different ways depending on age and what you want students to share with parents, but for our students we chose to set up stations to demonstrate something from each academic subject.

Instead of the traditional 15 minute conference, these conferences were 45 minutes long. This allowed students to lead their parents through six stations: 2 math stations, 1 writing station, 1 phonics station, 1 reading station, and 1 goals station.

For math, students demonstrated two math games that we play in class. The games are Hundreds Chart Battleship, and Number Bond Stories. Both are engaging activities, and it was fun to see the students teach the rules to their parents!

For writing, students showed their parents two writing pieces, one from the first week of school, and one that we just wrote. With our 6th grade buddies, we each wrote a Glow and Grow comment on both of the pieces of writing. A Glow comment is something that we did really well at, and a Grow comment is something that we want to work on to get better at next time. It was so fun for the students to see their writing from the beginning of the year up until now... they couldn't believe it! This was also my favorite part for parents to see. It even caused a few to tear up over how much progress their child has made over the year!

At the phonics station, students practiced their sight words by having their parent read them a word, and then the student wrote that word out in sand.

For our reading station, students picked out five books at their reading level and practiced them for weeks leading up to the conference so they could read them to their parents!

Finally, the last station was the goals table. As a class, we brainstormed some ideas to come up with academic and social goals for students to practice through the rest of the year. It was great for parents to see what goals are important to their child so they can support them in reaching these goals as well!

Overall, the student-led conferences were a great success. The students were proud of their work, and parents got an authentic look at what their Kindergartner does at school everyday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fluency Practice the Fun Way!

Fluency Practice the Fun Way!

Rereading a passage several times to Increase fluency is something I have always felt to be an important part of my reading curriculum. Students will read a passage with a partner, reread the passage a few times at home , and then read it again to their partner to see if they have increased speed and accuracy. Usually, the students enjoy seeing their progress and have improved more than just their fluency rate by reading these interesting articles weekly. However, to mix things up, I decided to try Reader’s Theater this week to help boost fluency and reading comprehension.

What is Reader’s Theater?
Reader’s Theater is a literacy performance activity that helps increase fluency and reading comprehension. Students practice a short script by reading it aloud several times and adding expression and intonation to their reading.

Students do not need to memorize their lines since they use the scripts in the actual performance. However, after reading their lines over and over with their group prior to the presentation, most students are able to use an expressive voice to convey meaning and emotion. Using a minimum amount of props, the actors need to rely on expression, limited movement, and strong emotions to help the audience understand the message of the story.

Since we are beginning a unit on Fairy Tales in Language Arts, this seemed like the perfect avenue to become familiar with the many common fairy tales the students will have the opportunity to adapt later in the unit. Groups performed Henny Penny, the Ugly Duckling, Princess and the Pea, and Three Little Pigs for the second graders.

The performances were a huge success. The only drawback… the students are already asking when is the next time we are going to perform the next Reader’s Theater! I have created a class full of eager actors, actresses, and prop designers in one short week!

The Ugly Duckling

Henny Penny

Princess and the Pea

Three Little Pigs

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Art Room

        Students are showing off their creativity and originality in the art room. Their artwork is getting more advanced, original, and detailed as the year progresses. Below are some examples of what each grade level is working on in art.

         1st grade has been learning about symmetry and creating art that is the same on both side.They were challenged to make symmetrical art work using the cardboard center, collage center, painting center, or drawing center.




2nd Grade has been transforming their robot drawings into their choice of a collage, sculpture, or painting. 2nd graders are challenged to add as much detail as they can in their projects by incorporating various buttons, bolts, gears, wires, wheels, claws, antennas, battery packs, and other accessories.


3rd Grade took their super hero drawings to the next level by turning them into comics, collages, sculptures, paper outfits, mixed media, and paintings. 


4th grade has been creating prints with radial symmetry. As you can see below, students carve radial designs into styrofoam to make a printing block (in other words a stamp). Students then roll ink on their printing block and stamp it on their painted paper 4 times so that a radial design emerges.

 5th Grade has been learning various water color 
techniques, as seen in the pictures above. Students are beginning to incorporate these techniques into their own, unique artwork that they design.


Sixth grade students finished designing their theme parks, and are now working on recreating their favorite ride in the online app called Tinker cad. Their Tinker cad creations will then be 3D printed into mini sculptures like the example below. I can not wait to see how sixth grade's 3D prints turn out in the next couple weeks.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Educating the Heart

In today's world, educating the heart is just as important as educating the mind. In fact, I believe that without first educating the heart, you may never educate the mind. Building relationships with and between my students is one of my biggest passions and strengths as a teacher. It is important for me to relate to the children and get to know them on a deeper level. It is also important for the students to find their own identity while also learning empathy for one another. One way to start this SEL journey in kindergarten is by recognizing our emotions and finding ways to regulate our body.

Kindergarten has spent a lot of time this year collaborating with Mindful Practices to help the students become aware of their emotions and develop strategies to regulate their body. As a class, we have spent a lot of time talking about the zones of regulation, as shown by the characters from Inside Out. The green zone is the state in which children best learn, so our ultimate goal is to always get ourselves back into the green zone.

Our primary focus at the kindergarten level is for the kids to identify their emotions, own their emotions, and find a strategy that works for them to get back into the green zone. I emphasize daily that it is okay to get ourselves into all of the zones of regulation. I explain to the kids that I feel my body get into every zone throughout the day, but I have been practicing strategies that work for me to get myself back into a calm and happy state. I even share those strategies with the students, and own my emotions in front of the students.

In order to practice self-regulation, we have created a chart in which the students check in with their feelings throughout the day. When the students first come in the classroom, they move their clip to show how they are feeling. If they are in the middle, or sad, there are strategies that they can choose from to get themselves back into the "happy" zone. Some students come in very tired, so they choose to do some exercises to wake up. Others come in sad because they miss their mom and dad, so many of them will go into the calm-down corner and think about their happy place. These are only a couple of the many strategies we have practiced in the classroom.

Our collaboration with Mindful Practices has helped us teach the students awesome and real strategies that can help regulate their bodies. Some of the strategies that have worked best for our kids are different types of breathing exercises and yoga.

Here is one strategy that we have used in kindergarten this year. The students are practicing control of their breathing by blowing the cotton ball to the tips of their fingers without it falling off. It was challenging at first, but overtime the kids were able to control their breathing and focus to successfully blow the cotton ball into the correct position.

Another strategy the kids have found useful is yoga. We use yoga when we need to relax or de-stress.  There are several poses that the kids have learned and practice daily.

Today we learned a dance that incorporates both breathing techniques and yoga! The kids loved every second of it!

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Mindful Practices and learning new strategies to help regulate our bodies. We will continue to practice self-regulation and searching for our own identity.