Sunday, October 8, 2017

Spider Writing

 Hello Everyone!!!

Writer's Workshop is in full swing! We have worked hard on composing with pictures, collected ideas, increased our focus to small moments,worked with writing partners , and are now trying to make our stories come to life.  Lucy Calkins,  in her Writing Units of Study, describes the next steps as writing in “Itsy Bitsy Steps.”  Jennifer Serravallo,  in her Writing Strategies Book,  discusses organizing in sequence.  Working on helping kids unfold their stories in steps is a something that takes more than one mini lesson.  It will take mentor texts,  modeling, re-organizing, revising, and a little element of manipulative fun.  I like to start off by sharing one of my favorite  books, One Day by Rebecca Dotlich. You have to get this book!  It shows kids how important it is to include all the parts of a small moment.   We then talk about spiders and how they build their webs step by step. I like to use Eric Carle’s The  Very Busy Spider!  Every page shows the spider making each part of her web. Then I get busy and begin  modeling a piece which includes step by step organization.  To add some fun and interest to the skill I use little spider rings  to indicate each step.

The kids get ready to tell their small moment stories bit by bit. 
I give each kiddo a small spider eraser to help remind them to write like a spider!  This whole lesson takes a few days, and many hours of trying.  But by adding the right fun elements, kids will embrace this important skill!!  Happy Writing!!

Readily available on Amazon

From One Day by Rebecca Dotlich

From One Day

Eric Carle's The Busy Spider

Model the skill

Fun kid reminders to Spider Write!
Spider rings and erasers are readily available this time of year.  found these at Target.

I hope you give this a try!  It has already made a difference in my kiddos' writing!!! Anything to motivate them, right??? 
That's it for today!  Have a great week! And Happy Writing!!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Word Strategy Posters

Hello Everyone!
Teaching reading is hard work, and can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many curriculum products out there to help guide you in helping your students to become successful readers.  Many of those products are  research based and claim to support methods and philosophies.  Some kids learn to read so easily, but more often than not, kids need specific teacher directed strategies to help them. How do you wade through it all and find what is best for your students?  I have been teaching for many, many years, and seem to try something different every year! I do follow our district plan, but usually find I need to supplement with various other plans.  This year I think I have found the answer to the “wading.” In 2015, Jennifer Serravallo came out with “The Reading  Strategies Book.” Jennifer has done all the work in researching updated best practices  for teaching reading  of students from kindergarten through about 8th grade. This book has already proven to me to be invaluable as an educator of young readers. 
I love the Serravallo books! Can you tell I get a lot out of both her writing and reading strategies books???? 

Serravallo includes 13 goals matched with the levels of readers from A-Z. The beginning couple of goals  give strategies for emergent readers and how to gain full engagement in reading.  Most of our first graders come to us with beginning reading skills. Our Kinder teachers do a great job of promoting interest in reading and  beginning those engagement skills.  We do work on stamina and staying focused on our selections.  The goal I was most interested in, which Serravallo covers next, is “Print Work.”  In this unit, Serravallo gives 23 different strategies for helping kids figure out words when they get stuck. Hooray!!!  Thank you!!!

I have picked out the ones I think will “meet my readers where they are,” and created little visuals to remind them.  I decided to make them mini-poster sized and also bookmark sized. In addition I have included some supplemental charts and quick formative assessments.

I am sharing this new packet with you because I have a feeling you may be looking for a concise, complete collection of strategies with which to work on with your kids. Just know this packet only covers one of the 13 goals Serravallo describes in her book. And to get the full lesson ideas to go along with each of these strategies, you really have to get the book! Mine is already "dog-eared and sticky noted!!!" 

Hope these help you in your journey to teach little ones about the joys of reading!!  Have a great week, everyone!!!  As always, thanks for stopping by our little window on wonder!!  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Let's Do the Rekenrek Slide!

Hello Everyone,
Just a very quick post today, but before I share, I want to thank you for all the e-mail messages about the hurricane crises here in Texas. So many of our friends have lost their schools and homes.  Please keep giving! 
Along that same line, please keep our Florida family and friends in your thoughts in the next few days as well! Having grown up in the West Palm Beach area, we are watching this next hurricane very carefully! Hold on!  Stay safe and be smart all!!! We love you!
 And ...We can't forget about the wildfires! This is all just so devastating. We have to lean on each other for support, care, and encouragement. Praying for everyone affected! 

Having all this going on makes it hard to focus on much else, but I was able to put together a little Rekenrek unit. By now you have probably heard of this hands on tool for kids to use to see patterns in numbers, help with composing and decomposing, and so much more. I started using them with my kids last year and totally fell in love with the engagement I saw with my firsties. Kids love them! 

In this little unit you will be introduced to what a rekenrek is, where to get them, how to make them, how to begin using them in your classroom, and how to practice using them in math tubs. 
Here are a few pages from the unit.

I encourage you to give them a try.  I want to thank our school district for generously getting some for our primary grades!! :)

Let me know what you think.  This is an introductory unit, but my plan is to add to it or create a "part 2."  I hope your kids enjoy and learn as much as mine have! 
Take care, everyone!!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Heartstrings and Teaching Things

Hello Everyone,
Well, this past week has certainly been a mix of both emotional joy, and at the same time emotional devastation. We enjoyed a beautiful week of heartstring activities in class, while dealing with the tightening of the strings of so many friends, fellow teachers, and schools in the Houston area because of Hurricane Harvey. At the time of this post there are over 40,000 fellow Texans in shelters, with damaged or demolished homes. At times, all we wanted to do was go down and help, rescue, and provide. Our school has, of course, started a donation drive, our district is collecting school supplies, and there are many opportunities to donate financially. Right now, is a great opportunity to teach kids about sharing what we have with those who have lost everything, to be  examples in this hard time. I know they will feel the tugging on their own little heartstrings.  

Besides the impact of Harvey on our hearts and minds,  we've had a great start to our school year.  With our pirate theme in full gear, the kids have had fun getting to know each other and showing what they know.

Meet the Teacher Night Message in a Bottle!

This past week we set up our writer's workshop and focused on the inspirations around us.  We know that we write best about what we know!  For the past gazillion years, we have had the kids create a map of their heart.  I love using the book "Treasures of the Heart" by Alice Ann Miller.  In this sweet story, a little boy shows his mom what treasures are hiding under his bed and that each of the treasures has a story.

After reading the story, I show the kids a large jar of treasures from under my son's bed when he was little!

I have done this same lesson a few times in years past, but this year I challenged my kids to build a "jar" with treasures of their own heart.  I gave them each a plastic container and added a sticker.  We wrote a note about what to include in the jar and slipped it inside to take home.  The kids brought them back the next day with their treasures.  They were able to share the "stories" behind the treasures with their writing partners. Writing inspiration!!!

After sharing their treasures, we started work on our "Maps."

I loved how this extra step has already inspired my kids to write from their heart!

For the specifics on this lesson, I have a little unit I shared a while back, but here it is again!

Thanks for stopping by our "Window on Wonder." These kids have already stolen my heart, and I'm excited for the year. I can't wait to share more with you! 
Stop by again soon!!
Till then, please consider making a donation to your local Harvey Recovery Donation site. This is going to take the proverbial village!!! Thanks in advance!