Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dictionary Skills? What?

Dictionary Skills? What?
You might think that students working in dictionaries is an obsolete idea.  With the advancement of technology, students can find information, check spelling, grammar, sentence structure, even get help writing complete papers.  But learning how to use a dictionary will help students later on when they are researching or trying to find information.  Once they discover how a dictionary is laid out, they will be able to gather information from other resources.
Our youngest students should learn that
*words in a dictionary are organized alphabetically.
*Each word is called an entry.
*You can find correct spelling, pronunciation, the parts of speech, and definition.
*Guide words on the top of dictionary pages give clues about what words are included on each page.

This ultra mini unit introduces kids to the wonderful word world of dictionaries. Once hooked, kids will love being Dictionary Detectives!

So after organizing our thinking about dictionaries, I let the kids pick a word from the given list. In pairs they set off to be Dictionary Detectives. They had to look up the word, write the definition, and then write a sentence on the recording page.  Then they got to share their detective work by making a little paint chip pumpkin!  They turned out great!!!  A wonderful hand to heart action!!!
But what happened next is what made me say "What??"  I keep our little basket of dictionaries back by our classroom library.  During DEAR time kids can pick any book from our library to read.  For the past week, more kids pick a dictionary to read! I know, I know...they aren't able to practice fluency, story structure, fiction, nonfiction characteristics, etc. But wow!! They are having a blast looking up words!!!  I see them using their detective skills along with the alphabet layout, and the guide words! When they finally spy the word they are looking for...TAH DAH!!! You can hear the joy in their voices, little screams, and wiggles! They can't wait to share!!!  I love it so much!  I hope their excitement for discovering wonderful words never falters!! 

If you need a quick mini unit to help you get started on this detective journey,

I hope your kids love being Dictionary Detectives as much as mine have!  
Let me know how it goes!
Till then, have a wonder-filled week!!
Love to all!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Retelling Expository/Nonfiction!!

Hello Everyone!
I am a firm believer that when kids can see and touch their learning, whether it be math, reading, spelling, really anything, they will be able to grasp the concepts, take them to heart, and even use the concepts to extend the learning and apply it to other concepts more  quickly and thoroughly.  Introducing new learning through visual and tactile means builds relationships and connections.  I see evidence of this every single day.  This is the main reason I try to create anchor charts, reminder posters, charts, connections, etc, that are stimulating visually. That is also why, after introducing a new concept, kids have access to these visuals, and then set out to create their own through touch.  Many people think that the connection activities I have my students do are nothing but fluff. I can see where that may be how it looks from someone who doesn’t see the whole process.  The observation and stimulation of the thinking process, the recognition of relationships and connections, the interpretation and perception  of  new discoveries, and finally, the analysis and self-expression to show learning, must be taken in for anyone to understand what went into that “fluff.” 

This week we have been working hard on retelling an expository/nonfiction text in order to show comprehension.  We start off by comparing fiction and nonfiction text, and discovering those differences by looking at examples.  Then I showed the kids some anchor posters to help them visually get the connections needed.  And just like the retelling rings we made for narrative text, we made rings for expository. Some might consider this fluff, but the visual and tactile reminders of the components of the texts we read are invaluable to some …if not most kids!! The kids take both out while reading and manipulate the beads as they retell to reading partners.  This is the kind of fluff  I’ll support any day!  Watch the whole process!

Just like the fiction unit, I'm sharing the nonfiction one.  Having visual and tactile reminders helps kids connect and grow from their learning! 

Hope you're having a great week!!! Let me know if you try all of this and how it went!
Have a great rest of the week!  
Thanks for stopping by for a peek!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Revising and Editing! Another Redo!

Hello Everyone!
Another of the more popular blog posts I've done is the one from quite a while ago on "How's My Writing?" Again, I would not be doing my job as an educator if I did not continually upgrade my lessons.  As I work more and more with our youngest writers, maintaining a safe environment for them to work is paramount. Revising and editing is the hardest part of teaching writing. It is our job to be encouragers of our young writers’ work. Our students have worked so hard just to get their ideas on paper and then they are asked to revise? “But it sounds good the way it is!” “Yes, that’s what I wanted to say.”  “I checked everything, and I didn’t see anything to fix.”  You have heard it.  It is my experience in working with hundreds of first-grade writers that adults should maintain certain beliefs about revising and editing.
*I am a firm believer in providing examples of modeling every part of the revising process and setting specific goals for specific kids. Kids should see us write, revise and edit.  Expecting all revisions and editing to take place for every kid on every piece can be overwhelming for both the teacher and the student!  I recommend introducing one revision or editing tool at a time and growing from there.
*I also believe that during the revising and editing process, staying positive is key.  Looking for the “great” things and building on those.
*In addition, I believe that writing partners play an enormous role in the revising and editing process. Utilizing the partner can be an absolute win…win…for both writers!! And sometimes, a young writer will take advice from a peer rather than an adult!! J

*Lastly, being respectful of young writers’ work is something I can not stress enough.  Providing a comfortable, safe learning environment where all effort is appreciated and at the same time encouraging the challenge and risk to rework will result in kids who love to write!
So, I have upgraded my editing unit to include revising.  Here's what you'll see in the unit!

If you think you might be able to use even a small part of this unit, you can download a free copy of it.

Thanks for stopping by for a peek into our world!  It is certainly a window of wonder!!  
Until next time, don't forget to find the joy in each and every kid each and every day!!
:) Nancy
 Don't forget to leave a comment!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Redo on Retelling!

Hello Everyone!
One of my most popular blog posts is one from many years ago on retelling. I looked back at that post and...WOW!!!  I totally needed to redo that unit!!! It looks so tired!!! I think I was just starting out with this whole "sharing via this blog" thing. It is surprising how much I have learned about creating products, making them look more engaging for kids, taking better photos, giving credit to the artists who create the clip art, finding clipart that is "cuter,"  and even adding copyright logos to some of my creations. I couldn't wait to redo my retelling unit. I have forever done the retelling rope...I mean ...for years! And many of you have adopted that strategy, but I decided to know KISS, and make the story parts color coordinated with dots. The Retelling Rings and/or Story Sticks are easier for kids to make and will be "handy" reminders of the parts of a narrative. They can keep the manipulatives in their book baskets to take out whenever they are reading or listening to a story.   Here are a few pics of the changes I've made.

 I hope you can use this new and improved version of retelling!  If you think you might,

I know I can't wait to use this retelling redo with my current firsties!!!  I'll let you know how it goes.  
Well, gotta run!!! We have parent/teacher conference day tomorrow!  I've got to finish getting ready for 22 conferences!  Yikes!!  Wish me luck with staying on schedule and getting them all in!!! I do love conferences and sharing what each little firstie is doing!  I also love hearing from parents and learning even more about my kids!!
Till next time, thanks for stopping by this little Window On Wonder!! I always appreciate comments and e-mail.  
Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Text Connections With Heart

Hello Everyone!
Thanks for stopping by this little blog. Just a quick share tonight.  It's report card time, and I have a few reports to get finished before Friday!  I didn't want to hold on to this unit for too long, because as I use it this week, I see the connections starting to develop! 
 As teachers and parents, you know that reading comprehension is paramount for all ages. Reading Comprehension is the making of meaning of texts. When readers see how the ideas in a text connect to their own ideas, lives, and experiences,  the meaning of the text becomes more evident.  When connections are made, reading can come alive for a reader. Readers need to be aware of the different connections there are to be made.
For our youngest readers, I like to focus on “Text to Self” and “Text to  Text” connections.  As readers mature, “Text to World” connections can come into play.

When young readers are given a purpose for their reading, they are able to better comprehend and make meaning of the ideas in the text. Having them make those connections can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of the reading process to get students engaged with a text, to help students understand the text more deeply, or to evaluate students’ understanding of the text. Making connections puts heart into reading. The mini unit I'm sharing tonight includes some mini poster to display after describing the connection. I've also included a sample of a larger anchor chart you can make if you want.  And don't forget about the bookmarks!!  My kids loved them.

Teach the kids to make a connection sign with their fingers. Every story you read, they can form the symbol every time they make a connection!

If  you would like a printable of these posters, recording sheets, and bookmarks...

Hope this helps you in your quest to help your kids with comprehension!  Let me know!! Till then, thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the week!!