Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chartchums are Awesome!

Chartchums is a great blog, if you have not visited yet, you should! It is funny, I was reading something there the other day and so often I see things that look like variations of a chart I have made, but there is always something new that I take away. I love it!
Today I tried a very simple example they had on their site the other day. It reads, Writers...1. Think and Plan, 2. Sketch and Write, 3. Revise with Joy.
Now, the only change I made to the one I did with my class today was number three--Revise and Publish. Then, on the chart, students simply place a sticky note to show what part of the process they are currently working on. Isn't that cool, and so simple! That is the best part.
So, I did the chart today, took some photos to add tomorrow, and I can't wait to add the sticky note part by the end of the week. I think it will be a great visual for me and my students to remind them that they are all within a process of writing, that it doesn't all happen in one day...even in the first weeks of kindergarten when  you're lucky if your story is one sentence. They can only do so much learning in one day! Anyway, just a very nice and simple way to manage my writing workshop a little more efficiently.
Guess what...I start writing buddies on Friday! Can't wait to see how it goes. Have a great week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Year of Growth

It's the end of the seventh day of kindergarten and things are looking up. I can't help but notice the kids who were sent to me ready for this challenge and the little one's who are barely potty trained, barely able to take care of personal needs and yet this is somehow not suppose to interfere with their education. Teaching is so daunting as it is, but now we are faced with the challenge of proving a year's growth. I agree that children deserve a year's worth of growth, but based on what as their baseline? In my district, a year's worth of growth is measured by your reading level. If you are reading at a level C by the end of kindergarten, then in that year you have made a year's worth of growth. For some this will be a year of growth and for others who may not even get close--they too will have made a year of growth, but not by that same measurement standard.
How do you demonstrate the growth of a kindergarten student in your district? What types of data do your teachers collect as soon as they can collect it, and how soon is too soon to collect data on a student (meaning the time of year)? Sometimes I wonder about data I collect at the beginning of the year, was it because they didn't know me well enough yet to perform or was it that they truly didn't know how to perform
I have been pondering what my goals for the year should be and I can't help thinking that I want a year of growth for each student, but because my kids are at the starting line, it is hard to know at what point they will cross the finish. Everyone's race is different and so often I feel saddened that it is a race at all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Website Resources for the Elementary Teacher

If you are just starting out or just want a fresh idea for writing in the kindergarten classroom this site will do the trick. It outlines the whole year and even includes great ideas for incorporating writing into different areas of the room. Lots to look at and lots of nice guiding information to help you through the school year.

Great Kindergarten Literacy Website

If you like to offer read-alouds over the computer or even better, project them onto a screen from your computer, here is a list of sites that offer online read-alouds!

This is a mix of things, resources and books.

This one you have to join, but there is a 30 day free trial. It costs $499 per school for a year; might be a nice grant idea?!

This is another nice one that you would need to join. The cost is 79.95 for one classroom per year. Very well worth the money as it gives your students access to the site at school and at home. Uniquely, the books are at their reading level and there are many resources for teachers!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A CAFE Menu :)

So I have been dabbling in The Sister's, CAFE book and really like what I am reading. I found a CAFE menu for emergent readers on their website and am very excited about the possibilities. The sister's once again give a great management tool to the teacher who is oh so busy trying to build a community of readers!
In the emergent menu, as they so neatly call it, the letters stand for C--comprehension, A--accuracy, F--fluency of letters, words and sounds, E--expanding concepts of print.
I felt like this seemed so appropriate for my "just beginning" readers. So many come with little to no understanding of alphabetic principle and many with even fewer retelling or comprehension skills. Everyone wants to be more focused and intentional and the best way to do this is with excellent management. I really feel like Ms. Moser and Ms. Boushey have given me some great tools to do just that and I hope to take a picture of my beautiful CAFE menu when it is up and ready for students!